Advice I read recently said “Social networks: choose two” and I can’t drop the feeling that it’s quite sage. In the overwhelm and the overbearing influx of social media content and the greater network of services there I’ve almost chosen zero instead of two, which isn’t any better than the fifteen or so you can choose from today.
I feel like today I live in between the rock of exposure and engagement and the hard place of privacy. I’ve moved so far away from Google and Meta properties to avoid the leakage of private data and my contribution to their share price, and moved toward the open web, privacy-respecting social media, and I feel really good about it - but barely anyone else in my network cares. I’m still surprised when I see intelligent friends using Twitter as if it’s the kind of bar people like us would show our faces.
Seeing the launch of Instagram/Meta’s new Twitter doppelganger, Threads, is encouraging this week as the project lead, Adam Mosseri is seemingly committed to open-web philosophies:
“We’re committed to building support for ActivityPub, the protocol behind Mastodon, into this app. We weren’t able to finish it for launch given a number of complications that come along with a decentralized network, but it’s coming. If you’re wondering why this matters, here’s a reason: you may one day end up leaving Threads, or, hopefully not, end up de-platformed. If that ever happens, you should be able to take your audience with you to another server. Being open can enable that.”
Being open also enables you to “choose two.”
Here’s how I currently “social media” (Spoiler: this is more media and less social):
Anything I want to share with the world starts here on my micro.blog, which serves a few purposes.
- Firstly it shares my stories with my micro.blog community, and they’re a great bunch of people. A good portion of them are people who - like me - backed Manton’s Kickstarter for the whole idea, and the rest are people who went searching for a cool glass of water in the internet desert.
- Secondly, my micro blogs actually post to my own blog, which is hosted by micro.blog but if I ever took issue with the service, the fee, the community, the leadership, or whatever may happen - I can very easily take my content to my own hosting. I could in fact do that today and still remain part of the micro.blog community and use the micro.blog tools. This is the power and the beauty of the open web and decentralised internet services.
- Finally, micro.blog pushes my content out to a number of other social networks, with the number always growing. Linkedin, Twitter, Mastodon, Medium, and Bluesky, all social networks that I look active on because of micro.blog.
I’ve had broadcasting in my genes for twenty years so that model serves me well. I craft a story, tell the story, and it shares to a few places. Today I’ll then get that story and also take it where micro.blog can’t (because of lack of API), like Facebook, Instagram, and now Threads.
And on a regular day, that’s where it stops. Opening those apps for anything other than broadcasting is such an overwhelming action. I’ve unfollowed thousands of people, but it’s still too much.
But if I had to pick two today, I’d go where I get the most interaction, and that would be the Meta properties and micro.blog. Mastodon, Bluesky. T2, LinkedIn, and Twitter are all graveyards as far as community, for me at least.
I open all the apps on a daily basis and it’s just so rare to feel seen or heard in there. I get more feedback and encouragement via emails from subscribers to my weekly blog email or text messages and conversations with people I love. You can actually publicly see how many people read my blog, and the odd post breaks out, but mostly it’s a group of 10-15 people.
Maybe that’s just the way it’s supposed to be? Maybe we’re not supposed to be on every single social network in existence? It’s just a strange thing for me to come to terms with, the gradual decline from talking to thousands of people a day on the radio, and on stages, through to being on breakfast TV and reality TV, to just being a dad who gets 10 likes on his Facebook post and calls his wife to let her know he’s going viral.
If you’re interested in reading more about micro.blog and the wider open web movement, Manton Reece’s book is great, or at least, will be great when he publishes it and takes it out of draft.
Long live Threads, maybe there’s a chance for a second breath of Twitter-like-wind there.