I decided to leave Twitter, while leaving the account active to avoid replacements in person, about a quarter ago. After a quarter, I can make an initial rough balance.
First of all, it is a social network. It serves to socialize, whatever it means for you. You will say: embeh? Facebook and others are also social networks .
And that's the point. They are essentially PR tools, public relations. In those systems all you do is take care of your own reputation. PR professionals, that is, public relations professionals, also manage to live on them. But PR professionals have always existed.
Once I knew one. He had an agenda ("if I lose this is better than I am going to give the ass at the fair, he told me once") with about ten thousand names. Every day he had to call about thirty just to keep the contact "active". He was phoning and … hi, how are you? What can you tell me about beauty? What are you doing? Etc. If he noticed that the guy didn't remember him, he took the opportunity to ask him about some person, because he had lost the number. Then of course he would tell him what he was doing, like he was working on the launch of a new disco, nice place, interesting tickets, etc.
In short, doing PR, professionally, was and is a job. It is not for nothing that Ferragni, which is a PR on a much larger scale (an automatic system keeps the agenda – the followers – and you don't have to call them but only advertise the news) does it professionally.
But ultimately, since social networks are public relations systems, nobody can really exist. There you have to excel . There is no one who is not gorgeous in a social network. Everyone does interesting jobs, everyone does interesting things, everyone is beautiful (at the cost of using the filters of their mobile phone to the limit), and everything you need to take care of your reputation.
This thing, on the universe, is not possible. First of all because it is still very difficult to have all those contacts, and secondly because there are no artificial interactions .
Here you have to understand what I mean:
most of the "interactions" between people do not involve people who apparently interact with you.
- When you find something that a friend of yours has "filmed", it was often not your friend. That article appeared to you as if your friend had clicked on "share", but it was not him: it appeared to him as if someone else had reposted it. It is a "fake" interaction, produced by the machine to propagate content that Facebook or Twitter want to propagate.
- Many of those who are following you don't know they are following you at all. As soon as you pass the tot followers or the tot friends, (a number high enough not to be humanly manageable) often the system adds them to you, or adds you to people who paid to have many real followers. And you don't even know it.
- Many of the "likes" that arrive there have never been clicked. It is a fiction that is put in place to not get bored when they notice that you are not very active on social networks.
- Not everyone who asks for friendship knows they have. In reality, it appears to them as if you asked them for friendship. As soon as your account passes a certain number of users, difficult to manage by a human being, the system starts to "put you in touch", in order to decrease the number of degrees of average separation.
- The "smart" timelines make sure that you always have news, but often those that appear to you are repost (never happened) of old posts by your "friends". They do it to keep the timeline active, to make social more interesting.
In short, on the one hand the social network is a PR system where you can keep your reputation high, but on the other hand it has a whole series of strategies to make you believe you have succeeded
Here, on the universe there are no such technologies. They weren't written in the pod code, the best you can do is make a bot.
So the relationships are real. And also the interactions. It does not mean that they are relationships that also happen in person. It means that if one puts you among the followers, he did it and not the software. It means that nothing moves at night because your friends are in bed, unlike real social networks, where it seems that you are part of a vampire genius who live at night.
Also, being able to defede an entire instance (if you are an admin, like me), when you realize that you don't want to host the social vandalism of people who get up in the morning wondering how to ruin someone else's day.
And this adds, for those wishing to make an abusive use, a further obstacle: they do not know how to practice political vandalism, because the number of idiots of an instance does not count: if they take the instance, the pack must find a 'else.
So ultimately the balance is positive. I seem to have gone back to the time of the BBS: each BBS had a specific address, and even the one that federated in Fido-like networks had a sysadmin, and if it wasn't enough you as a user could choose which BBS to attend and what filters to put.
In general, therefore, I would say that the universe has so far shown what I expected. Not the paradise in which you get along with everyone, but also the hell of social and emotional vandalism that commercial social networks are.
I don't know, honestly, if the Mastodon developer will really be able to get back the costs "through little advertising but ethics", as he says.
But of course, the universe is the only Social Network that really exists, as a social network and not as a Public Relations management system, or as a Reputation Management system. People are real, and if someone wrote something to you, it was him. It's not a fiction triggered by software.
Which, for me, is enough to continue.