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The Current State of my Social Media

As some may be aware, I’m pretty active on most major social media platforms. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more recently Mastodon.

I didn’t use to be as active, but then my activity on these platforms kind of exploded and hasn’t really stopped or slowed down much, yet.

I think the catalyst for it all was something to do with the mental illness I had several years ago. When recovering, I was medicated but also I felt the need to be seen. My recovery process was pretty rough. It felt like I was re-gaining my consciousness and personality, and little posts made me feel more alive and like myself. More aware of my personality.

On top of the fact that my (previous) medication seemed to alter my personality a bit, they made me more verbally open and over-sharing. Which funnelled mainly into social media (not as much real life).

Then came some angst. After I mostly recovered, I had some angst for how I shouldn’t have been though that illness at all, and a bit of that ended up on socials. And the desire to make up for that illness.

But me being me, I often found a way to channel it all into a more positive way (mostly). On Facebook in particular I have made some posts that maybe were a bit personal or self-congratulatory, sharing some of my accomplishments.

Over time, the angst slowly faded (but not entirely) and for some reason, my social media posting just stuck. I’d got stuck in somewhat of a positive feedback loop, at least on Facebook, which sometimes bled onto other platforms (eg Twitter).

I’m now active on social media partly for the satisfaction of sharing myself with the world. There’s still a part of me that’s afraid of not being seen. Partly that angst being channeled into something constructive and more positive, and also just because I’m told my posts are quite good and appreciated. I won’t name people here, but some people I truly respect for their own accomplishments tell me that my social media posts are “some of the best” on their feed. So yeah that keeps me going.

But times are a-changing. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are not what they used to be, even before I started posting a lot. It feels like I’m starting to run out of motivation for most of them.

I’ll start with the elephant in the room, 

Twitter.

Yes I have a Twitter account, apparently it is well known. It’s been a bit of a wild ride on that platform.

Twitter is more of my raw thoughts and self-expression. A strong desire there to connect and interact with people, due to it’s easy to use nature. But it’s not been that great for that. I go through phases of posting with enthusiasm, running out of energy due to lack of engagement, then rambling on with a somewhat depressed mood, then realising it’s not good for me and taking a break. It’s happened several times over the last few years.

I wanted to use Twitter as a platform to express myself, and for that self expression to be shared with followers who I hoped would engage with it. I wanted to make friends and use it in a more social way. Largely because my social life has not been working out for me in the past. I have struggled a fair bit socially, especially in person, face to face. Twitter presented itself as a potential opportunity for me to express myself effectively and maybe get some social interaction back. But it hardly ever happened when I wanted it to. It just ended up me talking to myself a lot of the time, and sometimes my posts getting likes. It wasn’t a complete black hole, but it was not a real substitute for a social life I wasn’t getting in real life. 

Over time I just accepted it and made my peace with that reality of the platform. But I still kept posting, I guess the nature of my posts changed a little, less personal. But even so, I would post some cool things, like my projects and games, but not get a lot of appreciation there. I posted my recent Bandcamp album of 25 tracks and it currently has one like from a spam bot. But I mean it’s not about the likes, it’s about the friends you made along the way. And I can’t really say I’ve made many on Twitter either. A few, but they don’t persist.

An unfortunate event recently has made me realise, that Twitter isn’t a healthy platform for me or my followers. All I’m doing is perpetuating a social dynamic where I post a lot and get little in return. My posts apparently get seen but people chose not to engage. For some cases, it’s not very healthy. 

So my latest approach to Twitter is to start stepping back. It’s just the ultimate conclusion. My profile  there is not something all that prestigious or important. I can step away from it and there won’t be many unhappy consequences I suspect.

Facebook

On a more positive note, my Facebook experience has been quite supportive and “healthy” in comparison. I don’t know exactly why it gets more engagement, but it does. Maybe I have less baggage there, but I also know quite a few friends who I’m friends with IRL who are pretty nice people who would appreciate my posting on Facebook.

In the old days, Facebook was the cool and more functional alternative to MySpace. You could do more things, it had more of a directory of people like a phone book where you could look anyone up, and then share photos, text posts and things like “pokes” and magnetic letters and play social games on the platform. It was cool and fun for someone my age at the time, my late teens to early twenties.

Then in the mid 2010s it became more popular with groups and communities, a real healthy explosion of activity within sub-groups. For example, the Tas Game Makers community and other of the local tech/creative communities in Tasmania. And pages were just pages, and not more of a business opportunity..

Then Facebook slowly stripped out more features, re-designed it with a more “modern” whitespace-friendly design and some of that soul got lost along the way I think. I kept posting the usual stuff, but I’ve seen a few people post less, post different things. It’s feeling less alive and interesting these days, just full of family photos and boring spammers like me. Some of that is also due to things like Discord taking off. If you’re not on Discord, and you care about online communities, you should be because that’s were online communities are these days.

I’m still going to keep posting on Facebook, but it’s starting to feel a bit old, and I’m being more self-aware of how spammy I am in comparison to the average user/poster. There’s some guilt in posting in a space that’s slowly dying, or at least changing into something that’s not as much for me any more. Maybe I’m a bit out of place. But not as much as Twitter..

Instagram

Instagram is also going through significant change. Another platform I felt the urge to post on for my sense of self-awareness, it’s been a very interesting platform in the past, but less so recently, for me anyway. I gained a lot of likes for some of my posts, just due to effective use of hashtags. However, for some content now that is very similar to the content I’d post in the past, I’m getting much fewer likes. My theory is due to the new “reels” feature. Taking away the attention of the photos, and more towards the short-form portrait videos, which is a bit of a rip-off from TikTok. I’ve been watching a few reels, and the algorithm is still slowly learning what I like (it’s pretty dumb) but I still get a few interesting videos, that are better than TikTok. It’s a bit weird though, as TikTok is the king, a lot of videos just end up getting ripped from TikTok and posted on Instagram. Not even by the original poster sometimes. You see a few old videos that make the rounds, again, ripped from the original poster. Stealing content is apparently okay in video form too, as long as it’s not copyright. I don’t post that many reels, though I’m starting to try a few. It feels weird posting reels when the people that have followed me for years, and liked my content in the past have been liking photos, not “reels”. It’s like I’m prioritising others over the cool people that follow me and like my posts regularly. 

Speaking of, there are a few on Instagram that regularly like my posts. Like Facebook, a few people I know in real life. So yeah they are to be expected and of course appreciated. There’s one or two who like quite a lot of my posts and I can’t help but compare to Twitter where I can’t think of anyone who regularly likes my posts. Ah well as said, it’s not about the likes.. But it says something about the people, or the platform.

Mastodon

I love Mastodon. It’s like Twitter but full of happy supportive random strangers. I’ll post my usual random stuff and a large percent of the time I get some response back. Not always a reply, but something. Compared to Twitter it’s like being hugged. Some of that is due to the smaller communities over there. It’s federated, which I won’t explain here but it’s certainly acts as a filter. If you don’t understand it, I guess you don’t join and use it effectively. I’ll repeat, it’s full of happy supportive random strangers. 

A problem with Mastodon is moderation. I’ve been learning through the grapevine that it’s often a case of over-moderation or under-moderation. Or a mix of both. Some of that is due to the fact that it’s volunteer-run. Sure, they may have Patreons, but they don’t always pay the bills completely. So moderation can be a bit scrappy. And poor policies, or ones that don’t get followed perfectly. 

But it’s issues aside, it works, for me at least. I use it in a more upbeat way than Twitter. I originally set up my account back in 2021, when I was taking a break from Twitter, due to it being bad for me. Well before Elon took over Twitter.

Back then, it was much smaller and easier to see what was going on. Now, it’s much noisier and sometimes feels more like Twitter, where everyone is competing with everyone. But one of the big differences is that you’re not competing with brand pages, and there are much fewer celebrities on it. So it’s much easier to compete. I posted my Bandcamp album on there and it got a fair bit of attention, reposts and likes. Unlike Twitter.

The current server I’m on, “aus.social” may not be the best for me, it’s moderation policies are a bit weird sometimes (I won’t elaborate). But for me it’s not a major concern that affects my posting or responses so I’ll stick with it for now. 

What else is there?

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter seem to be slowly changing into something far less interesting, or “dying” perhaps. Mastodon is great for me but not for most of my IRL friends. 

Discord

Discord is alright. I’m on way too many servers, and own a few and help run a few others. So yeah I’m pretty active there too. But I feel it has the same affect as social media, a bit of apathy. You just don’t always get great conversations or responses out of people. For example, I run a server for my game development company, “Motley Pixels” and it’s pretty dead most of the time, despite how I post every now and then. But I’ve also seen great examples of interactions of others on the Tas Game Makers Discord, people helping other people out and such. So it’s a mixed bag for me.

SpaceHey

If you’re nostalgic for the past like me, there’s a total re-creation of MySpace called SpaceHey and I’m on it, but I don’t know any friends who are on it. So it’s a bit dead for me sadly, but some others get some value out of it. Particularly if you are good at designing a custom theme with CSS.

Tumblr

In my desperation to try new things, I tried Tumblr. But, I can’t find any of my friends on there so I’ve left it alone for now. I’m also not sure how to use it effectively, it seems more for artists.

BeReal

With a pretentious name, it’s actually a rather simple app. You take a photo of yourself each day at a random time and share it with others. I’ve been using it mainly because I find the concept pretty cool, though I don’t have many followers on there sadly.

My experience on social media may be different to many others, but I must point out the difference in these platforms. Twitter and Mastodon are very similar, but the experience I get is wildly different most of the time. The big three seem to be running out of steam, but where does that lead people like me? Perhaps more fragmented between all these places, or more aware of what works and what doesn’t, which gives me some insight into finding what I’m looking for, socially online at least. And of course in person, in real life. That’s always an option, if the universe would throw some of those social opportunities my way more often..

I suspect that in the next 10 years, social media will be quite different again. Maybe something new will come in, or there will be a mass exodus (for real this time), leading to a massive fragmentation of online communities and friend networks. Who are your friends? I guess it’s mainly the people you meet in real life, and online friends are much more difficult to make for most people, though not all. What will be the dominant online social friend space?  I don’t know but I hope it gets much better.

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