I kinda miss microblogging. One thing that Twitter provided for me was a place to shout into the void in small pieces. I could, easily, do the same with this site, but it’s a bit onerous if I’m being honest. With Hugo basically being the platform behind it, it’s not well suited for a quick blurb to be thrown into the void of the internet.
And despite the fact that I know Twitter is an unhealthy place to be, I’ve been fighting going back.
I’d been eyeing the fediverse for a bit now. Especially with the desire to possibly leave Instagram. There’s a couple of projects to look at, here. Mastodon is like the fediverse Twitter and Pixelfed is like the fediverse Instagram.
Eventually, I’ll probably run both. But right now, I wanted to get Mastodon going. I want to get back to shouting into the void.
Initially I had the idea to launch an instance for a community in which I am active. But if I run that, I want to separate my community activity from my personal activity, so I also wanted to stand up my own instance.
I thought about the idea of hosting this in my home network with my fast 1gbit internet, but the risk of getting my home connection targeted by potential threat actors was a concern. Initially, I was putting it on AWS Lightsail, but apparently they block port 25 outbound, so email confirmations and notifications were impossible. So I put it in Linode.
Obviously, doing all of this is not free. I intend to make this instance available to friends, but it will not be open to public registration. It is federated so anyone can follow and I should be able to follow anyone. But only friends will have a @squirrelmob.com account.
A note about cost: Twitter wants to charge $8 per month to be a “real” user. It’s not just about the blue checkmark. If you don’t pay $8 per month, you’re invisible on Twitter. You are, literally, shouting to the void. What you post will only ever show to your followers. And paying subscribers will still have priority over your posts. So your timelines will still be managed with stupid algorithms which you can’t control, even if you pay a fee. If you do subscribe and you follow someone who does not, you may miss their content in favor of those who do pay, so you still don’t get a really better experience. And the $8 per month doesn’t remove advertisements.
Most people won’t want to pay $8 per month, let alone the originally proposed $20 per month. But there’s some that may be willing to pay to help their friends and communities. My Mastodon hosting on Linode will cost me far more than $8 per month. Just for the database and instance hosting the services, it’s $25 per month. And then there’s backups. But I have control over it and there’s no algorithms getting in the way. Having a handful of friends joining in, whether they pay or not, means the per user cost actually eventually falls below Twitter.
But there’s an important thing to note here: I’m not avoiding Twitter because it’ll cost to use it going forward. I’m willing to pay. But Twitter is a toxic platform and its new owner seems hell bent on amplifying that toxicity. I left Twitter long before any of the current shenanigans were going on because of this toxicity. I’m not doing this to bandwagon on shitting on Twitter because of Musk. As I noted, I just wanted a space to shout into the void that is similar to Twitter but is not Twitter. I have no desire to return to that toxic hellhole.
So yeah. I’ve got a Mastodon. I’ll be updating my about page later with a link to this. I need to update some other pages as well anyway, so all that will be done soon.