Having a lovely time on Mastodon, but returned to Twitter anyway – here’s why

I wrote a blog post titled ‘The day I decided to build my own “Twitter”‘ and I still stand behind it, for the most part at least. Yet I returned to Twitter. What gives?

I’m a bit hesitant to write this article, because I’m worried it might trigger my anxiety about the subject after the possible outlash from my most fanatic anti-techbro followers. But I feel like this is something I want to say right now. I’m sure for many this whole thing makes me the biggest hypocrite of all. Maybe it does. You have every right to think so and I don’t blame you.

I do my thing, you do yours. I don’t blame you for that, so just don’t judge and blame me and make me feel bad. Because I don’t care. I will block and mute all the things that cause me unnecessary anxiety. I won’t tolerate it any more. I’m doing this.

I was mostly without Twitter since December 2022 to May 23rd, 2023. I tweeted pro-Mastodon and anti-Twitter stuff from January to April 1st, 2023. Then I completely left my account dormant as per deletetwitter.com.

So my return to Twitter this week might come as a disappointment for many. After so many blog posts and rants against it I decided to return. But why? Why the hell did I do that? Read on.

I never deleted my Twitter acount, because it contains 17 years of data worth remaining in the Internet. Yes, my data is used for various purposes, I have given that out for years. I know the facts about today’s social media and Internet. I am the product and so are you, if you happen to be in the Internet. However, I know that, many don’t. I use VPN, AdGuard, NextDNS, uBlock Origin and Portmaster in my everyday web surfing. My “stack” (if you will) block every tracking and advertising attempts in every app. Currently NextDNS analytics says it has blocked 280,361 requests within 3 months in my home and work network, mobile has blocked dazzling 4,112,032 requests. So I can’t really be tracked much and that feels good.

So the reason for “taking a break” from Twitter and then returning to the pit, if you will, never was only about me being tracked or being a part of the machinery. It’s more complicated than that.

Screenshot: Two Chrome browsers side by side, Twitter on the left, Mastodon on the right. Linux desktop with dock on the bottom, top left: Applications, Google Chrome, top right: seven icons: network, coffee cup (keeps the screen wake up), home icon, extensions puzzle piece icon, ethernet icon, volume icon and power icon.
Twitter on the left, Mastodon with Mastodon Bird UI on the right. Pop!_OS Linux desktop.

I found the activist and anarchist in me. Ended up not liking it.

For years I never cared for the rich people of the social media era of the Internet (Musk, Bezos, Zuckerberg). I never gave them further thought. I also never really thought Internet could be worse place than any other, I thought it’s the people who make it so. My thinking changed after I got tired to Twitter and found this magical place called Mastodon. I started to care, I started to think. Most of all, I started to hate. I see it now as a big dislike, like a huge mistrust. The cynicism in me spiked!

I became an activist for the ethical Internet. I shouted out loud all Twitter is bad and Twitter users don’t know better. I didn’t realize this at the time, but there’s a fine line from a big dislike to hate. Hate is a powerful thing and should not be endorsed. Yet it’s very subjective. Many people don’t consider it as bad if you’re supporting a cause. But it is bad. It’s always bad.

I often quote Eddie Jaku, a holocaust survivor who survived through four different concentration camps. His book “Happiest man on Earth” is one of my all time favourites.

I do not hate anyone, not even Hitler. Hate is a disease which may destroy your enemy but will destroy you in the process. You may not like everyone, but that doesn’t give you the right to be nasty to them.

Eddie Jaku, a holocaust survivor

He is right. I wholeheartedly agree. Hate destroys everyone.

I will not rise on the barricades after all.

I still heard good things about my tweets.

Occasionally I hear from a customer or from some relative of the relative IRL that my tweet has delighted him or her. This makes me think. My tweets bring good to the world? I should trust myself more and not destroy this positive thing, whatever it is. If the past tweets are fun and good, why get rid of that?

Had a dream about a better world.

On Tuesday 23rd, 2023 I woke up. I don’t remember the dream exactly, but in the dream I had returned to Twitter. Everything was so positive in the dream. I got messages from the good-old Twitter friends from the past. There was no Musk, no nazis, no negative stuff. I had blocked them all, if they ever even existed in the dream in the first place.

It was 7am and I was thinking. Should I? After all, why shouldn’t I? So I sent out a tweet. And another. And another. Like in the good old days. I wasn’t afraid any more.

Let’s start anew

During the first minutes when I opened the app in the morning, I felt this anxiety about the Twitter all together. I had reprogrammed myself against Twitter. The Twitter blue color made me nauseous. But then I looked at it and decided I won’t be anxious about this. I own this thing, this is something I can control, even though it’s just apparently mine, I can shift my mindset so that I am in control.

So, starting over. Like in the command line you can type clear. It was like that. The past is gone. I decided I won’t think of it no more. Let’s start anew.

I had removed all the people I followed on December so I had zero of them, my Twitter was filled with the “default” “For you” content, the most trending tweets probably. There was nothing of algorithm to grasp on to so it just offered me some memes. So I had to start over. I tweeted in Finnish about my reasoning of getting back. I also encouraged “the nice people” to reply so I could follow them. And got plenty of responses.

I’m not the only “hypocrite”. People dislike Twitter, but use Instagram or even TikTok.

I asked on Mastodon about what social media services people use. Right now as I’m writing this the poll is still on and it has 1,538 votes. 31% of the people (that’s 476) still use Twitter. The most of the rest use various centralized social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Only 9% of the people answered use none of the centralized social media services (that’s 138 people).

It’s very rare to not use any centralized social media service in any way. It’s as rare as people using Linux as their main operating system. So many hate Twitter yet use Instagram which is almost the same thing. Or hate Musk but are irrelevant to Zuckerberg. Why hate only Twitter if you still use the other services?

Is it a statement after all?

I started to dislike this escalating of matters. The notion that everything is either-or, black or white. The mentality where you are either with us, or against us. Pro-Twitter, or anti-Twitter. I suddenly didn’t want to be either one of these extreme ends, not really. I had already spent myself in the full-on anti-Twitter. It was fun to bash Twitter for a while, but not after so long.

Fediverse is toxic too.

Just look at the things on the Fediblock list. I’ve been constantly blocking users and whole servers since I created my own.

You are not completely safe on the Fediverse. There are still bad people out there.

While saying this it still needs to be underlined that Fediverse and Mastodon is by far safer than Twitter, because if on Twitter you get targeted, the only way you have is to lock your account. You can’t block everyone forever if that happens. You either be a public or private and that sucks. On Mastodon you can just block the whole server and move on, or even better – decide per post the visibility. Twitter doesn’t have these amazing protective features.

You have every right to change. Nobody is perfect.

I’ve changed many times in my life. I’ve thought alcohol is great for party in the past, I was part of the craft beer and restaurant culture. Then I quit alcohol and nowadays I think either all drugs should be banned or allowed. I also changed my financial life from -20k debt to +20k net worth after my dad died and ended up bankrupt and I realized things. I also lost about 45 lbs of weight (approximately 20kg) and started running as a hobby despite the fact I absolutely hated running in the past.

People change. People’s mind change. People tend to improve over time. Or regress. I hope this one is not something of the latter.

The most of all, I decided I don’t want to submit to negative things. I don’t want to hate Twitter. I need to focus on the positive side on life.

Block, block, mute, block…

I was never into blocking in the past. I hardly blocked anyone. I thought blocking is rude and unnecessary as long as I’m being a loving human to another. But in the nowadays Internet it doesn’t work that way. I either submit myself to all kinds of toxicity or I use block and prevent myself from triggering. This is the first time I decided: BLOCK them all! I mean not all, but all those who mean me harm.

First day on Twitter (I consider Tuesday 23 May the first day on Twitter after a long, long time being dormant) was mostly blocking “dating bots” that like randomly like my tweets. I also blocked couple of users who practically said “fuck off to your beloved Mastodon”.

F*ck Elon Musk?

While saying this, I don’t hate him. Heck, I don’t know him personally. But I know his absurd opinions and hostility towards minorities. I’ve seen his interviews. He is a mess like Trump. He’s toxic and manipulative bastard. I will stay away from the influence of his kind.

I don’t need to agree with the things universe brings. I don’t need to agree with the direction of Twitter. I won’t pay for Twitter and I won’t support any political cause or Elon Musk. I have my own mind and I know my place.

I’ll continue blocking the things I don’t want to see. That gives me the power.

I’m a hermit without the social media.

In one point I almost decided to leave it all. I had this fleeting thought I should delete my Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and all the rest. Even Reddit. But then I stopped to think what would I be without social media.

I’m an introvert. Perhaps nowadays more of the social side of that since I tend to talk a bit more with the people I know really well. But I don’t seek people, I don’t get together, I don’t intentionally meet anyway, I don’t go to parties. I avoid people. My mom visits me perhaps couple of times in a year. But online I’m very social. It helps that I don’t need to mind myself, I don’t need to keep up appearances. I don’t need to represent. I can just type and that’s what I love to do.

Without social media I’d curl up to a hole as a full blown hermit. I wouldn’t go out (I don’t do that anyway), I’d be a miserable and dull, cynical prick. I don’t want to become that. I’ve already experienced that in the past, during the 2000s I was depressed and living in the small apartment downstairs in my parents’ house. There was no proper social media back then and I was mainly using IRC. I didn’t go out in weeks, I hated the world. I even called myself Le Misanthrope, as was studying French in the upper secondary general school.

I need to be in social media to exist. I wanted to change this cynical attitude of mine. I wanted back the feeling where I could post online without any self-limiting thoughts. “Should I post this?”, “Could I post this?”, “What will other people think of me if I post this?”. I wanted to throw away those thoughts. And so I did.

I was going to tweet like I was going to post on Mastodon. Without limiting myself. Fuck all who think negatively about that. Mute and block and move on.

I need to think about my business.

I have a growing business to tend to and not being on Twitter would harm that. It’s the sad truth, but I’m a capitalist pig. I want to make money. Me being visible is also my company being visible. I’m not the Jesus here, but my social media precence will affect to the success to our digital agency. We’ve been growing this for 10 years, why stop now?

Many like Dude’s things on GitHub, web and social media. Why give that up? It’s like throwing money away.

I miss things and communities.

There are no companies on Mastodon and the front end community is stronger on Twitter. Mastodon is popular amongst Linux users, hackers and programmers, but Twitter thrives regarding all other communities.

Mastodon has millions of users, in fact about 12 million right now. It’s huge and will be even bigger in the future. Yet Twitter has hundreds of millions of users. While Mastodon is wildly social and even more social than Twitter in some occasions like Eurovision, it still lacks certain users I wish would be there. That cannot be changed as of right now.

RSS and other things help following things on Twitter, but it’s just too much work for me. I’d rather be there and follow people there. Both can coexist in my world.

I can’t retweet a good tweet on Mastodon.

Dopamine is the joy of life.

People criticize the social media today for the dopamine spikes and easy wins. People like to like and are big on influence and numbers. I agree it’s not healthy when it’s too much. Twitter algorithm twists this, it encourages people to be superficial. But it’s not that black and white.

It’s not realistic to say we should avoid all dopamine, likes, numbers and visibility. We love being heard. And we should be heard.

Many Mastodon users seem to think we should be more miserable and ordinary. That we should not care about the amounts of boosts or favs. Yet we do like to get noticed. I get the notion but it’s a big inner conflict. Something in between is right and healthy.

Mastodon is still my safe haven.

I’ll continue using Mastodon very actively. Nothing will change in that regard. I will continue posting anti-Twitter stuff on Mastodon and pro-Mastodon stuff on Twitter. Nothing will change in that regard either. However, most probably won’t take part in social media meta discussion in the form of opinions of my own. That would go in vain, beacuse I’ve said what I’ve said in this blog post.

Mastodon still has my favourite features of microblogging platform to have, these are the things Twitter does not have (and probably won’t):

  • Auto scrolling feed
  • Notification sound (I like that blip!)
  • Unlimited characters (by default 500 but with your own server there is no limit)
  • You can follow hashtags
  • Per-tweet visibility setting (private, unlisted, followers only, public)
  • Multi-choice polls – Content/spoiler warnings that hides content by default behind a toggle
  • Free editing posts
  • Ad-free everywhere
  • Open source – you can code your own features
  • Content warnings and spoiler alerts
  • Accessibility, supportiveness towards the blind, people actually add alt descriptions
  • Open API, healthy bots
  • You can block entire servers
  • Custom emojis

I understand now some of the comments people say about Mastodon, that it’s strict, elitist and limiting. In many ways it is so, people can be very hostile about Twitter users or centralized social media in general. I wish open source culture would not be like that. We should be welcoming and loving no matter the background of others. Discrimination is a double edged sword.

Social media won’t go away. But I hope the attitude towards it gets less hateful, less limiting and less intimidating in general.

I hope you still like me despite continuing using Twitter. Because I like you, in principle. I need to believe in good first. Optimism is not naivety.

Peace and love. Emoji: Bunny with heart icon on top of it


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