Tired of social networks? Here’s why you should be Fediverse curious

Many of us are familiar with the feeling of investing time and effort on a particular social network, only to either see it become irrelevant over time or do something stupid or malicious that scatters people over to half a dozen platforms. And so you start over, with all your posts and followers not accompanying you to any new place. And then the same thing happens to that network. It’s an annoying cycle. Your social web connections should grow and strengthen over time, not degrade abruptly when caught amid the whims of corporate elites. Maybe people in 3024 will judge us for this barbaric trait, among other things.

But what if I told you that with something called the “Fediverse” you only ever need to create one social media account? What if you could interact with people on all kinds of social networks with that single account? And what if you could keep doing so with newly launched social apps or websites without having to join them? And if you like a new app better than the old one, what if you could simply take your followers with you there without them having to lift a finger?

That’s the future a bunch of humans are building with the Fediverse.

Image: Mastodon

The Fediverse is like email but public. With email, you don’t care if you and your contact have a Gmail account or an Outlook account or a Yahoo one because it all interoperates using a common set of protocols. Likewise with the Fediverse, as long as a social network follows a web standard called “ActivityPub”, it can mingle with all other such networks.

You can try the Fediverse today. To get started, create an account on Mastodon.social in a minute. Admittedly, it might feel a little lonely at first since the ActivityPub network as a whole is still growing but, again, it might just be the last social account you ever need. Especially when considering that the social networks Meta Threads and Flipboard—each of which have more than 100 million users—plan on joining the Fediverse this year.

But, Jatan, didn’t you say just a few days ago that you’re quitting social media? And that you have only a couple of them setup to auto-share new blog posts? Yes, and yes. And I continue to think that microblogging of any sort is a terribly contextually deprived way to create and consume things. Making social networks interoperable only solves a few things wrong with them, not all. And so I’d still like you to follow my blogs via email and RSS only please.

But humans insist on using social media for some reason. With that in mind, the pro-human, decentralized Fediverse surely seems to be a saner idea than centralized, corporate-owned social networks. And so, if you must, my Fediverse account is at moonmehta@web.jatan.space. Again, it’s on auto-share and a low priority so really, just go email or RSS if you can.

If my introduction to the Fediverse made you curious, or left you more curious than convinced, here are some other explainers:

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