Thoughts on Social Media (and Me), Mid-July 2023

John Scalzi

Hey, remember when Twitter and Facebook and Instagram (and Tik Tok, if you were under 30) were the only games in town, after having basically destroyed the idea of the independent web? Well, no longer! Thanks to Elon Musk being forced to buy Twitter and then turning it into a resource-starved playground for dimwitted fascists, and to a lesser extent to Mark Zuckerberg throwing billions down a hole to convince the world that a lightly-updated version of Second Life was the future of the Internet, there are now roughly 17,000 new social media sites, all vying to become the new Twitter, never mind that Twitter was mostly not profitable, and only barely so even when it was.

And of course, I have accounts on all of them, because I am extremely online and have been for 30 years. I’ve poked around on them and used them and now I am happy to share my thoughts on the current state of social media online by talking about which ones I am using, which ones I am using less, and which ones I’m not using at all. Here we go:

1. Bluesky: Bluesky is (currently) an invite-only service with (currently) just under 300,000 users, but among its frequent users you have people like Guillermo Del Toro (who uses it to chronicle his model making), Neil Gaiman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, journalist Jake Tapper, film producer Gale Anne Hurd, and a non-trivial percentage of queer America. Part of the reason it is still invite-only is that it’s still in beta and lacks a lot of the features and functionality other sites have — it currently can’t even show moving gifs, although whether that’s a bug or a feature is left to the reader — and its small development team is trying to scale its back end without blowing it up. The invite system lets it onboard people without melting everything into slag.

It also has allowed it to create, in a small amount of time and with a smallish number of people, a very distinct vibe: People are comparing it to “when Twitter didn’t suck,” but it’s actually different than even that. It’s very queer, pretty weird, and as much as it can, it has an emphasis on positivity — not like “you can’t post about bad news or divisive politics here” but as in “If someone’s being a jerk, don’t engage, just block.” There’s comparatively little dunking, dogpiling or quoteposting for clout. This has been frustrating for the occasional troll or outrage farmer who comes to the site to pull their usual shenanigans and discovers that no one is playing that game; they’ve run back to Twitter complaining about how awful it is on Bluesky, which, well. For them, it is.

It’s also currently not great for “influencers” or celebrities whose social media stock-in-trade is asymmetric communication between them at the top and their adoring fans below. There aren’t enough people on the service for that sort of thing to be effective, and the general ethos of the site is “among, not above,” which is to say that the site is at its best if you’re having conversations with, not talking at, others there. It’s (currently) a very different vibe from any other site out there, and, for moment at least, on average, a lot more enjoyable experience than social media is most other places.

That said, it’s not what you would call perfect. Minority users, especially members of the black community, have had legit criticisms about how it’s run and how moderation works, and have complained of feeling excluded or minimized, which is not a great look. Bluesky also can feel cliquey and even a little snobby, especially in how it regards other social media sites, which is weird because, among other things, most users have accounts elsewhere. There’s a line between recognizing the unique things that make a community great and using that uniqueness as an exclusionary tactic, and I think Bluesky members should be thinking about it maybe more than they do.

For all that, it’s still the social media place I find myself spending the most time at these days — a place to play and chat and have fun without, for me, the expectation that I have to be selling myself constantly. It’s not the auditorium stage, it’s the backstage area, where everyone from the stars to the stagehands are mingling and talking to each other (and who the stars and stagehands are depends on your point of view).

Will this vibe last beyond the site’s beta stage? Who can say? For now, it’s great.

2. Twitter: I’m still on it! Because, bluntly, I have just under 200K followers there and I’m loath to abandon them all, although at this point just how many of those 200k followers are actually still around is an open question — aside from a relatively few people who actively deleted their accounts, most people who leave Twitter just… leave Twitter. I mean, I still have a MySpace account, and a LiveJournal account (I just got an email congratulating me for 19 years of membership there), but I’m not exactly spending time at either.

I’m still on Twitter but I’m spending less time there and am relatively less engaged, partly because it’s more fun to hang out on Bluesky at the moment, and partly because Twitter has become more unpleasant to be on. It’s not just Elon Musk turning the place into a fashy playhouse; after all this time and prior to Musk cutting off API usage, I’ve done a pretty good job of muting and blocking most of the usual suspects, so my own timeline is (relatively) fascist-free on average. I can’t ignore that Musk and his party pals are trash, but I can mostly avoid them.

So it’s not just that. It’s also that Musk — who has so thoroughly trashed his “tech genius” reputation that when he challenged Mark Zuckerberg to a literal dick measuring contest today no one was really surprised about it — has just plain made the service worse. He fired most of its staff, so now everything runs jankily; he trashed the verification system so now the biggest slice of his “verified” users are losers who pay $8 a month to be sure that people see their shitty replies at the top of the comment queue (a moment of pity for the people who have Twitter Blue for actual legitimate reasons; you’re painted with an icky, fashy brush, and I’m sorry for that); he brags about curbing bots but every post I have now includes a porn bot in the comments offering up a link to (no doubt) malware instead of boobs. Twitter is depressing to be on, not just because Musk is a fascist, but because he’s an incompetent.

I’m not mad that Elon Musk has been so completely exposed as a bumbling, insecure man-child that his reputation will never ever recover — isn’t it good to know that even being the richest man in the world doesn’t save you from being a pathetic wretch, desperate for the approval of people who will never ever love you? — but I am sad that it was Twitter that he wrecked his reputation upon, because he wrecked Twitter in the process. Couldn’t you have just fucked up Space X, Musk? You were never going to Mars anyway!

But here we are in 2023, and Twitter is dying, and I’m posting on it from habit, for the people who remain, and because I want to see when it is the lights finally get switched off. It may be sooner than later now, thanks to a new competitor I’ll get to in just a minute.

3. Facebook: Facebook is where I go to stay in contact with everyone I knew before 2005, with friends I’ve met since then in the mix as well. For keeping up with folks who are mostly uninterested in technology — which is most people! — it does fine. Because I have a rule that I don’t talk politics on Facebook (and generally delete posts off my timeline that do), and because I keep my personal account locked down (fuck you, friends of friends! You’re all terrible people!) it’s actually a pretty congenial place for me, that I enjoy hanging out on. Also at this point I’ve trained Facebook only to show me ads with musical software in them, which is pretty great, and I’ve even bought some of it, so there you go. Facebook will never be my primary social media outlet (knocks on wood), but, notwithstanding the various moral and technological sins of the company, when I am there, I have a perfectly good time.

I also have a public page that is all career updates all the time, and that is actually fairly effective as a promotional outlet, even with Facebook throttling it to convince me to spend money to extend my reach, which I will, by the way, never ever ever do.

4. Mastodon: This tech-forward, nerd-friendly site* is also the one that feels the most clique-y to me, because it had several years in more or less isolation to develop traditions and practices, and its long-time users can be prickly when newer folks come by and don’t know the rules of the road. It’s basically the vibe of the Eternal September, brought forward to the Web 3.0 era. In all fairness, it does suck when people just show up and tromp around heedlessly, so I don’t want to ding the veteran Mastodonians too much for it. It does mean there can be a bit of a frosty vibe for newcomers. There should be a way to thread that needle.

The asterisk up there, incidentally, is there because Mastodon isn’t actually a “site,” it’s a federation of various sites and servers, each with their own backend and rules and such — it’s not a single massive metropolis, it’s an archipelago of villages, connected by mail service, as it were. Mastodon isn’t the only service to do this, as Bluesky will also be federated when it gets itself out of beta, and Threads, at least theoretically, also embraces the concept of federation. But Mastodon is the one that is the furthest along in using the concept.

I really like the concept of federation in theory, and in practice I’m pretty sure most people have not the first clue as to what it means and what it does, and they just want to post pictures of their cats and/or rants about conspiracy theories. Mastodon caters to those with more than a minimal level of comfort with tech and a willingness to get under the hood with it, and because of that I’m not sure it will ever be more than a niche enthusiasm. I don’t imagine that outside of a few federation evangelists, this bothers most of the folks who have made Mastodon an online home.

I do like Mastodon, and I have spent enough time there now that I feel pretty confident posting and chatting there. If the rest of the tech world collapses, it’s entirely possible that Mastodon, due to its decentralized and federated nature, will be the Last Social Media Standing. In which case I am glad to already be there and not part of another wave of social media refugees.

5. Threads: Which did not publicly exist a week ago! And yet now has over 100 million users! Sending Elon Musk into a penis-shriveling panic! Which in itself would make me applaud the existence of Threads — Musk’s fragile masculinity deserves a kick or two square in the jewels — but the topper for that stat is that if Musk hadn’t’ve fucked up Twitter in the first place, Threads might’nt’ve happened, because Lord knows Mark Zuckerberg was busy enough making the Metaverse not happen. But Musk did fuck up Twitter, and Zuckerberg, et al saw an opportunity to eat his lunch, and now, with Threads a third the size of Twitter in just five days, lunch time it very much is.

“But Threads cheated!” is a refrain I’ve actually heard, because Threads is basically a text-forward offshoot of Instagram, and setting up a Threads account is basically pressing a button to transfer over one’s Instagram credentials to a new application. It’s how it worked for me; my Threads account and my Instagram account are one and the same, down to the verification (which I got, I hasten to add, before Meta followed in Twitter’s footsteps and allowed people to get it by paying a subscription for it). This is a curious objection: How, exactly, is it cheating to make sign-up simple and painless? How many hoops should people jump through?

My initial impression of Threads is that it is simple, easy-to-use, nowhere near fully-featured (it doesn’t even have “alt” text for pictures yet, which is a real access issue) and absolutely, completely 100% soulless. Like Instagram, its timeline is heavily focused on influencers, celebrities and commerce; it’s like someone made TMZ and the Shopping Channel have a hot night at the Mall of America, and this is what came out. It’s perfect if all you want to do is scroll endlessly; if you actually want to generate community, or even find your friends, it’s not so great.

I’m posting on Threads and apparently people are finding my posts, and I got nearly five thousand followers in three days, so it’s useful, and I’ll keep doing it. And I think Elon Musk is right to panic, because Threads absolutely is a threat to him and his shitty business plans. If I were an advertiser and I had to choose between Threads and Twitter right now, well, I’m pretty sure I’d go with Zuck’s service, since if nothing else Zuck has a track record of getting ads in front of eyeballs. But of all the things Threads is at the moment, for creative folks or people looking for their people, “fun” isn’t one of them. I don’t think “fun” is point.

6. Instagram: I post there! Sometimes! Some of my friends really are Insta-forward in their social media presences, so if I want to keep track of them, this is the place I go. And I do like posting photos. But of all the sites I regularly use, this is the one I use the least, the one I go, “Oh, right, I should post something there” about. It’s fine! I kinda like it and don’t actively dislike it or anything! But it’s also the site with the least amount of community feeling or back-and-forth to it: it really is best at uni-directional communication.

And that’s all right! For a lot of people, this way of doing social media is the most manageable and least intrusive for them. I’m glad it’s there for those folks. For me, it’s not my favorite way of doing it.

7 – 10: Post and Spoutible and T2 and Tribel: Newish Twitter replacements of varying sorts, all fairly nicely designed for the purpose of being ports in the storm once people leave Musk’s Folly, and all also after-rans, at least for me. They didn’t seem to develop either the critical mass of “cool” users that Bluesky did, or the massive crush of users that Threads did, and while there is nothing wrong about them — at all! — I wonder how many will be about in a year or two. There are other social media in this space as well: WT.Social and Nostr and Spill (which is just starting out and like Bluesky has an invite list), but aside from camping on my name, I don’t use any of them, although I’m looking forward to trying out Spill when/if I’m let in. Gab and Parler and Truth Social are sites I have, shall we say, let pass by and I don’t expect the ones of them still around to stay around long, especially now that Musk has turned Twitter into a Fash Central.

11. Everything else: I have LinkedIn mostly as an affectation. I use Flickr to store photos. I have Tumblr mostly to rebroadcast Whatever. Goodreads also rebroadcasts Whatever, and has book reviews to boot. Reddit I read but only rarely comment on; Metafilter I love and occasionally comment on; YouTube I have a channel on but it is random and sporadic. I’m not on TikTok or Snapchat or really any other video-forward site because I have a face for text, and not enough time at the moment for video editing, which is a skill one needs to learn, and I’d rather do music stuff.

And thus, my assessment of social media, as it applies to me, in July 2023.

— JS

54 Comments on “Thoughts on Social Media (and Me), Mid-July 2023”

  1. Bluesky sounds somewhat appealing, but it also has that distinct whiff of, and I hesitate to use the term, elitism to it. Particularly when you talk about it as the “backstage area.” I know that’s how you think, but it still feels a little off to me.

  2. Threads is unavailable in the EU. The Commission won’t permit it until it stops collecting so much user data. Which is a good thing.
    I have a Twitter account, but I haven’t done anything there for a couple years.
    Facebook, by default.

  3. OH SHOOT–that last line should have been “I know that’s NOT how you think…”

    Sorry about that…

  4. I’ve been following you for years on Twitter at my son’s suggestion, when he saw one of your political comments on Trump.

    I follow for that and the cats and the photos and the peek into your life with your lovely wife and daughter.

    Buying a church and turning it into something other than a church is a fantasy of mine, so there’s that as well.

    Happy to see you on Threads.

  5. Goodness, I didn’t know a third of these. I only use Facebook after being convinced to join 14 years ago. I did join Instagram just to follow some family members but otherwise I don’t post there. Probably just as well as I spend enough time online reading news, gaming sites, a sampling of YouTube every day and checking what has posted every day on my streaming services. Whew, that’s enough for me. No wonder I’m so behind in my book reading, too much time online. ;-)

  6. Thanks for the summary–the blizzard of Twitter wannabes has gotten a bit hard to follow. Just one note re: BlueSky–even for a social media site, their terms of service are pretty onerous. They essentially claim to own everything you post: https://mashable.com/article/bluesky-twitter-terms-of-service This actually raises some interesting issues about whether they can take advantage of the DMCA safe harbor provisions that protect most sites from liability for posts by third parties.

  7. Wait, what’s your handle on Gettr?

    What name do you use on Truth Social?

    😂

  8. I’m not on anything and don’t log on to anything… so basically I can see you on mastodon and Whatever, since everything else you pretty much have to log into see anything. If reddit goes down that route, then I’ll be back to like 2007-me in terms of internet distractions, shortly after I left any forums I’d been on.

    I definitely miss specific twitter celebs who have moved away from Mastodon now that you have to login to see twitter posts.

  9. Hi all!

    I’ve been on Facebook forever, so I’m not to worried about Threads. I figure Zuck knows everything he needs to about me by now. I’ve poked around at Mastodon and Post, but I’m not a fan. I occasionally cruise Reddit, Snapchat, Instagram, but there’s only so much time…
    I bailed on Twitter as soon as Musk bought it and turned it from a toilet into a cesspool. I figured he’d turn it into the next Hindenberg, and he outdid my expectations. Twitter was fun for me because of all the aviation and aerospace accounts, but there was nothing there I couldn’t get elsewhere.
    So for now, I’m going to observe Threads with curiosity. I’m likely to delete my Post and Mastodon accounts soon. There’s only so much a person can keep up with.

  10. Thanks for this, John! As a less-online person who is finding myself needing to be more online, I appreciate the timely and un-fascist take on 2023’s daunting star map of social media platforms.

  11. I’m only on Twitter these days because I have a tiny photo-posting script that seems to (so far) have fallen under the script-killing API radar, and about five people who look at my photos, with whom I then interact :-) Not a huge audience, but one I would miss. Other than that, I ignore it.

  12. I haven’t been on Twitter in maybe 2 months. There was no value in being stoked into sheer rage after a few minutes of scrolling.

    I follow a lot of the same people on Instagram as I do on YouTube, so it feels like behind-the-scenes for me. And there are a few other makers/creators that I follow there as well. I don’t typically follow celebs or Influencers ™, just people who I think are doing cool things. I share pictures of my projects or music or trips, mostly for myself and a few family and friends, I don’t really care who else sees them.

    I started getting into Mastodon more in the last 6 months, following techy types and hyping up others that have similar hobbies and interests as me, and that still seems fun, though I don’t spend hours on it.

    I spend about 15 minutes maybe a day on Facebook before I get bored with it, and rarely ever post anything there. I also have a LinkedIn account that I spend about 5 minutes on every 3 months or so. I thought it would be useful for professional networking, but quickly found that it’s not for me.

    Threads is going to be a hard pass from me. The app completely invades your privacy. And it’s so interwoven with Instagram, that if you try to deactivate your Threads account, you will also deactivate your IG account.

    As for the rest of them, I spend enough time on the platforms that I’m currently on and don’t see any reason to find more on which to waste time and my life. Far better to spend time on enjoying things outside of my house or inside on my hobbies.

  13. I’m not a huge fan of Mastodon. Every time I’ve tried to make it work, I end up pulling my hair in frustration. Yes, yes, I know it works well for many people, but for a significant minority it’s problematic (and it’s clear, from discussions, that for whatever reason they aren’t up against the same limitations). But the other thing? Masto users are not only smug, they’re freaking zealots. I’ve started classifying them as being up there with evangelicals in their fervor.

    I have been growing rather fond of Counter.Social, and there’s a nice little writer community there. Surprisingly, I’ve also sold books off of CoSo without a lot of heavy solicitation (frankly better results than Twitter or Facebook).

    Substack Notes is also interesting, but some of the community is a bit insular.

    Otherwise, I just keep on adding new servers to Discord….

  14. I’m feeling very sad about the death of Twitter. I’ve never been huge on social media but way back when I enjoyed the Amazon Book forum. When Amazon killed it I tried Goodreads but it never clicked for me. Then because (of you!) I tried Twitter and it really has been a lifesaver the past few years. Interesting people and all of my interests in one place.
    Now most people are going to the oligarch owned sites and I rarely see many of my favorites. Since neither is an option for me and for some reason most aren’t interested in the whale site, it really does feel like the end of one of my pleasures.

  15. I had a look at Threads. But… no desktop support, only mobile devices. A text-forward service that can only be used on devices without real keyboards for typing that text… no thanks. Release a browser version or a computer application and I’ll take another look.

  16. My biggest disappointment in Twitter these past few weeks is that, since I’ve never had an account, I can’t see anything anymore. It was fun being able to see posts from Scalzi and others without having to sign up for something.

    At least we’ll always have Scalzi’s blog!

  17. I expect vanishingly little interaction with blogs so I hesitate to include Whatever and similar blogs as social media but a Comment section does make this at least social media adjacent!

    Thank you for not dropping RSS, I still find my RSS aggregator an excellent way to keep tabs on journal style websites.

  18. Threads is…OK for now, but as much as I used to love Instagram, it has been trending less and less useful as it becomes harder and harder to find content from people I WANT to see (short of actually searching for their usernames), and more and more of a forced showcase for sponsored influencers. They’ve even made searching under hashtags nearly impossible, so good luck using those to find, and be found by, folks with similar interests; that Threads is made by the same people doesn’t fill with confidence.

    (I did read earlier a report or two that Elon has blocked Threads from the browser in Tesla cars? I do not know if this is true or not, but would it be surprising?)

    Spoutible is fun and has a lively crew of people really trying to make a go of creating community there, which I like. I try to post to Hive, whose functionality I liked a lot but which maybe came too soon in the “Twitter’s dying!” moment to create critical mass. As for Bluesky, no idea; I’m still awaiting an invite! (That no one has yet deemed by invitable is something I’m trying not to interpret as being meaningful….)

  19. I’m another one in the chorus of people who are now shut out of Twitter because we were reading without logging in. Obviously, for people who are on social media to socialize with the other people on social media, lurkers like me aren’t a major concern, but for those with things to promote mixed in I wonder how much that’s something for people to consider as they decide “where next?”.

    At this point, I think Mastodon is the only one that I can consistently read as a lurker. Instragram has been rate-limiting how many things I can see without an account for a long time, Facebook I can see some pages but not others without logging in and I have no idea why, Tumblr seems to have recently decided to go behind a login barrier too (which is particularly annoying because I only read a few people there an because the things they post aren’t time-sensitive and I hate the interface, I’d been bookmarking them and checking in every 6 months or so), and all of the new potential Twitter-replacements don’t seem to have a way to view an account while logged out from a webpage.

    There are a few authors that I’d check in with on Twitter as my main way of keeping up with their upcoming releases, convention appearances, and assorted public-facing personal lives, and now I suspect I’ll be less likely to know about what stuff they have coming out. You have this blog, so presumably that’ll give me sufficient heads-up about any of your books I might want to keep in mind, but most of my other author regular-reads seem to have left self-hosted blogs in the dust quite a while back and many don’t seem to be updating their Mastodons after initially making one.

    I’m certainly not owed information about the personal goings-on of any given author, but I am more likely to remember to buy their next book if they choose to publicly share parts of it with me in an entertaining way using some kind of online presence, and also use that presence to let me know what books they have coming out.

  20. I put a moratorium on drawing flowers until I have given away two for every one I draw. This means I don’t have flowers to post to social media as often so some of my accounts are a little rusty. I still have friends on Twitter, so I poke my head in there pretty regularly. (I seriously want to ride it all the way until it collapses.) Mastodon is peaceful, though I wish I had more people to follow. Threads bait-and-switched me into thinking I’d have a feed of nothing but people I follow available to me. (Not happy with that one.)

    Since I cured myself of the compulsion to read ABSOLUTELY EVERY NEW POST ON MY FEED I’m able to spend less time in those places and more time writing and making art. I think I’m doing better for it.

  21. Happy to say I have NEVER been on ANY social media site and never will, and believe me, I don’t ever feel like I’m missing something.

    I can see where a “presence” would be important for an author, but not for me.

  22. I gave up on federated anything when I lost access to half the people I was following on mastodon when my petty tyrant got into a slap fight with their petty tyrant. I’m sure there is a work around, but it just doesn’t seem worth it. For better or worse (worse), Twitter still has the biggest set of people and things I want to see.

  23. @Kevin Grierson:

    That’s not a claim of ownership, that’s a standard-boilerplate license for Bluesky (and any other service that uses similar boilerplate) to be able to use the content (which you still own) – pretty much every service that has user content has much the same thing in their TOS, because they wouldn’t be able to run the service without it. (F’ex, Twitter wouldn’t legally be able to promote someone’s tweets, or even – AIUI – let other people see them, without such a clause.)

    It looks alarming if one isn’t used to it. I’m surprised that reporter (given the credentials listed in her bio at the foot of the article) apparently isn’t, and even more that her editor didn’t catch it.

  24. I had an unused Instagram account so I jumped onto Threads. I hope it improves. Right now I rarely look at it since I can’t set it to just show me those I’m friended with. I have no interest at all in “influences,” sports, and other crap it seems to be throwing at me constantly.

  25. Reddit is the only place I’m really at home (it’s more of a forum than social media), but I try to be on most social media to promote my YouTube stuff.

    Among microblogs, I like Mastodon the best. I’d try Bluesky if I could only get an invite. I think Tumblr might still have a future as well.

  26. The Social Media Apocalypse has been very bad for me as a self-published author with my first book out. I wavered and wavered and wavered on the grounds that I had previously deleted my Facebook in a fit of pique and was considering deleting my Twitter when the current owner took over. I… am on both, but… am not sure either is my demographic.

    I’m on:

    Mastodon
    Goodreads
    Instagram, where I mostly post silly cat photos and videos.
    TikTok, where I post almost exclusively silly cat videos

    I’m watching the Twitter situation with considerable alarm and considering Tumblr.

  27. I’m not very active on social media. I liked Twitter mostly because I could just read conversations between a few people I follow without really having to do anything. Reading Twitter threads is supposed to a short, low effort break from what I am actually supposed to be doing. Some of the people whose threads I used to read have left Twitter. Having to sign up for another social media site and create a profile or whatever sounds like a whole boring project. If I’m going to do a whole boring project anyway I should probably get back to the work I am actually supposed to be doing.

  28. It’s entirely possible that Musk will make SpaceX configure a bunch of orbiting Starlink sats to spell out a scatological message to Zuckerberg.

  29. The main thing that changed on Twitter since Musk tricked himself into having to buy the platform was that people left of the centre of the political spectrum started to leave the platform.
    I tried to compensate that by trying to find new people to follow, but that has been (as far as I noticed) the main change on the platform.

    When it comes to what you see on Twitter (or any other social media) it’s important to remember that the algorithms of these sites give you, what you most interact with.

    If you want to see more posts by US Democrats you should consider giving @JoeBiden and @TheDemocrats more like.
    With Joe Biden I often find myself among the first 200 to like his tweets, with @TheDemocrats often among the first 50 persons to like their tweets.
    Something that I would have never been able to do with the predecessor of President Biden (if I would have ever found myself wanting to give him a like).

    As I see this, from outside the US, the Republican base is much better at playing this social media thing than the Democratic base.
    I can try to give them some relevance, but then I also know that I’m not their target group and others, preferably in the US, should try to give them social media relevance and visibility.

  30. This was like reading a travelog about a country I’m never gonna visit. :)
    Really, my social media is gmail and the commentariat of Breaking Cat News on GoComics. I ain’t that social.

  31. Bluesky was where I learned that Free Speech in general, and the 1st Amendment in particular, are ~literally~ trans genocide. This generated my first complaint, that it’s far easier to block on Twitter than on Bluesky. Otherwise it seems a good Twitter replacement, at least for how I mostly use Twitter. Except that wxTwitter seems uninclined to move there.

    Been on Mastodon for a few years, since a friend set up an instance. A bunch of us who’ve known each other online since late last millennium are there.

    Been on Tor dot com’s blogs for several years. It’s social, and it’s media, so I guess it counts.

  32. Still following you on Twitter, though I’m using it a lot less than I used to. Also, deleting/blocking advertisers that pop up after every third or forth post is seriously annoying. Facebook is still my main social media. Most of my RL friends ae there and, for better or worse, it’s the main source for event info for one of my major hobbies. Discord is actually becoming my runner up for conversations, which is something I hadn’t expected. I started off with just servers attached to my Patreon accounts, then found others related to queer and/or pagan spaces that have been helpful during the pandemic.

  33. Enjoying Mastodon. Not sure what’s complex about it, though I keep hearing that. I simply follow a number of interesting accounts and rarely comment. Quite a few SF writers comment regularly there, so that’s one substantial part of my feed.

  34. I am on Facebook, but most everyone in my demographic is.
    I am on Instagram, where I post one or two pictures a month, if I find an unusual subject or from an unusual location.
    I am on Linked In, but rarely do anything there.
    I use Goodreads to track the books I am reading, have read, plan to read.
    I am on Twitter, Mastodon and now Threads.
    95% of what I do on Twitter is live tweet #AllStarTrek in the evenings. I cross posts those tweets to Mastodon, which I know that the Mastodonians object to, but what they don’t know won’t hurt them. I’ve also started cross posting to Threads, but I think that is mostly pointless since hashtags don’t work on that platform.

  35. Twitter remains my main social media outlet. Musk is a twerp but I’ve not seen my timeline change massively — careful curation has helped, I think.

  36. A word here for Lemmy (https://lemmy.world/) and Squabbles (https://squabbles.io/), both trying to be refuges from Reddit — “Rexitors” as they are known.

    Both are members of the Fediverse. Both ape Reddit in that they are structured around an array of named communities. You subscribe to the communities of interest to you; then your front page can be either “world” — all posts — or “home” — just your communities.

    On both, everything seems very civil, with people actively trying to be nice and constructive.

  37. I also have no online presence. Early on I decided that I wouldn’t join any online community whose sole purpose appeared to be to scrape my personal info for sale and advertising. Since that’s pretty much all of them, I’ve never joined any of the sites you listed. Haven’t missed anything, apparently. I do pay attention to them, though (some of my siblings are on Facebook and others), and it’s interesting to see how they’ve developed into both necessary and useful social sites for so many people and businesses and yet some are complete cesspools in so many of their sub-communities. Self-policing still seems to be poor on most of these sites; hopefully that will get better.

  38. I’m on Facebook for a few specific interests and a few specific people. The same with Instagram.

    Threads is a usability disaster so far. I’ve installed it on the machine I use the least, maybe I’ll check in again in a few weeks. But it has the stench of Zuck on it.

    I walked away from Twitter the day Elon walked in with his sink, and I’m feeling pretty good about that decision. Bluesky? If I had an invite I’d check it out, but Jack Dorsey isn’t that much better than Musk, and once he needs to monetize the thing I suspect it will be every bit as badly moderated as his Twitter was.

    I tried to like Post, but it’s full of people who mainly want to angrily shout about Trumpworld 24/7, and I’ve done and heard enough of that for this lifetime.

    This brings me to Mastodon. I signed up for an account in 2017, but didn’t do much with it until a few months ago. After some work (and an instance change), I’ve developed a good feed without too many prickly old tech guys, free of advertising and the influence of man-child billionaires. I think it’s where I’m planting my social media flag for good.

  39. My main go to social media accounts are Instagram and Facebook. Twitter is for occasional posting of book reviews, spouting off about LinkedIn is for book reviews. I don’t have time for anything else. And that is saying a lot for someone who is basically retired.

  40. Been on Facebook forever, though I rarely post any more. It helps me keep track of friends and family, but its best use to me now is hobby groups. They are generally highly informative and tightly moderated, so you get what you need without wading through cesspools of abusive and unpleasant behavior.

    Twitter’s highest use was always the funny stuff, and that’s going away rapidly. I stopped posting there years ago, but kept my account. Now that Phony Stark is in control, I rarely check it.

    I actually spend a significant amount of time on LinkedIn for work. Again, you don’t deal with trolls and generally awful people, and you do find information.

  41. Well, there I go again leaving a sentence mid thought. Twitter is for spouting off about sports, services that are out, films, and James Gunn.

  42. @sunflowerP it looks like they’ve changed the terms somewhat, but you’re right, I overstated things. They DO, in the current version, retain the right to use anything you post for their own marketing purposes, which is definitely a step beyond what a lot of other social media sites require (TikTok, for example, gets permission from its users (and pays!) to use portions of their posts in marketing: the irrevocable license allows Bluesky to use your posts to “promote and market Bluesky and our Services, including without limitation through Bluesky’s owned, operated, and/or branded social media channels. “

  43. I have to disagree with you about Musk, or at least his focus. Thank god that his infantile attention has been on Twitter, not SpaceX. Somehow he seems to have left SpaceX in competent hands, and the company is doing a fine job bootstrapping us back into a space program. Twitter and social media, meh. I could care less if he burns them all down. But rockets and rocketry and space exploration…that’s some worthwhile stuff. Just sayin’…

  44. The three biggest things with Threads is the data collection thing, the fact that once you opt your instagram into it you can’t opt out without deleting your insta too, and the fact that a lot of the promotional stuff I’m seeing seems to be all about how they won’t tolerate hate speech. Well, I’m very very familiar with what Meta considered “hate speech” and our opinions don’t align. I’m tired of reporting dozens of comments calling for queer people to be violently killed only for Meta to pat my head and assure me they’ve looked over my report and it doesn’t violate their guidelines. The fact Threads is claiming to be better than Twitter when Facebook is as bad or worse is suspicious to me.

  45. Tesla also seems to be doing OK, since Musk got some people who know how to build cars and is letting them build cars. I just hope that if Musk ever completely blows up, he doesn’t take down his good businesses (SpaceX and Tesla) with him.

  46. I haven’t signed up for Threads yet because I don’t want it connected to my Instagram account. I use Twitter for different purposes than I do FB or Instagram and do not want the people I interact with on there to be able to connect it with any account that is adjacent to my real life.

  47. Any thoughts on Substack, John? I’ve just found it when my favorite FiveThirtyEight writer moved there after the site got downsized. I know it’s not social media, but it does fill the Google Reader- shaped hole in my heart.

  48. I can extend a Spill invitation if you’d like. So far it isn’t really my scene, especially with the text limit being way too short, but I’ll be interested to see how it develops.

  49. It belatedly occurs to me that I don’t know if you can see the email addresses attached to these comments, and if not then actually leaving you a method of contact would be helpful, so please shoot me a mail at herblahajness at gmail dot com if a Spill invite would be of any use to you.

  50. Regarding Bluesky, I have been put off by the Jack Dorsey’s recent endorsement of that anti-vax cuckoo, RFK Jr.

    Regarding Twitter, I am one of that 200+K Scalzi followers, but while I haven’t deleted my Twitter account, I am logging very rarely and I have stopped interacting (liking, retweeting, replying). My account will simply stay that way until either it is removed due to inactivity, or there are drastic improvements, like a change of Twitter ownership.

    I have joined Threads, due to the very low barrier of entry for Instagram users, and due to the fact that they are the best positioned to become a strong Twitter competitor. But what they have at the moment is a minimum viable product. I hope that functionalities like web app and following-only tab are coming soon.

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