Mastodon is not Twitter
Mastodon is not Twitter. It doesn't seem like it will ever be, it's fundamentally different. Although the size of the user base of Mastodon instances has grown 3x as part of the greatest Twitter exodus to date, Mastodon will never be Twitter.
A lot of people are joining Mastodon as a “Twitter replacement”. They've (understandably) lost faith in the direction of the bird platform and are looking for an alternative. They're going to be disappointed, honestly. I feel like people in this category are trying to break their Heroin addiction by turning to Ibuprofen. It's not going to work. Mastodon is (intentionally) not designed for a frenetic, addicting, free-for-all injection of news, shitposts, memes, celebrity gossip, etc. It just isn't set up to work that way. Not that toots on those topics don't exist in the fediverse. But Mastodon doesn't intentionally push the most trending, most controversial, most nonsensical bullshit directly into your face and force you to interact with it.
For people that actual have legitimate friends and relationships on Twitter, that is something that can be replicated on Mastodon. If you tweet something, and a known group of friends and acquaintances generally interact with it, then welcome to the Mastodon experience really. But if you just fire into the void on Twitter, and sometimes one or two random people who you barely remember having followed you respond with something vapid, forget about it.
Twitter is something that the people at the top create. The major celebrity accounts, the news organizations, the politicians: Twitter is theirs. In most cases, Twitter is a consumption medium, where you're technically allowed to comment. Mastodon is of course the opposite. It's bottom up. Toots are written and spread amongst close-knit communities and friend groups.
This takes us of course to the “viral tweet”. Sometimes, normal people like you win the Twitter lottery and their tweets get tens if not hundreds of thousands of likes. This perpetrates the myth that anyone can “go viral” if they just keep tweeting. And in the replies to those tweets you can find a random sampling of other normal people. This is, actually, kind of nice. You get a diverse set of viewpoints and opinions on some common issue or viewpoint.
Viral tweets don't happen on Mastodon, at least not in the same way. You will never go viral on Mastodon. But the truth of it is, you were never going to go viral on Twitter either. It's all a mirage, a sleight of hand perpetrated by the birdsite to keep us coming back for more.
Have you seen what happens to people when they go viral, anyway? Days of their phone and computer notifications blowing up, all possible real communication buried in the deluge. If your viral post is political, you might even end up getting doxxed, harassed at work, etc.
I know I'm not the first person to say that Mastodon will never be Twitter. Luckily, I believe that it wouldn't be Twitter even if all the Twitter exodus folks tried with all their might to make it so. For people who are disappointed in this conclusion, I have to honestly ask: do you really need info-garbage shoved in your face 24/7? Maybe you don't need any replacement for Twitter. Maybe you can quit cold turkey.
What do you think, did I mess this up badly? As always I'm Travis Briggs, of travisbriggs.com fame. If you'd like to comment on this post you can do so on Mastodon (@firstname.lastname@example.org) or send me an email at email@example.com.