A Few More Thoughts on My Move from Twitter to Mastodon

HOUSEKEEPING NOTICE: My proposal (and budget!) for a virtual reality lab for my university library system is almost done, and soon I will be able to get back to blogging “news and views on social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse”, as the tagline of the RyanSchultz.com blog states. Thank you for your patience!

It’s been almost one month since I first decided to jump ship from Twitter after Elon Musk announced that he was buying the microblogging platform, and it seems like a good time to share with my readers my thoughts about the move.

In only 3-1/2 weeks, I have 150 followers on Mastodon, and I am already following 300 people!

The culture and ethos between Twitter and Mastodon are completely different, like night and day. There is a blessed absence of advertising and “influencers”, people are politer, there is a relative lack of trolls, and the lack of a quote feature means that people tend to talk to each other, instead of about each other. Partly, these differences are because Mastodon has a much, much smaller network of users than mighty Twitter. (Some stats: Mastodon has about 4.4 million users, while Twitter boasts over 396 million users.)

One thing I quite like in Mastodon is the ability to put a content warning (CW for short) on a post, so that the person reading it has to read the content warning and decide whether or not to click through to read and/or see the actual content. Here’s an example of a recent post I made with a content warning:

One person whom I am following on Mastodon, Rachel Sharp, wittily summed up the difference between Twitter and Mastodon as follows:

Tonight I spent a little time scrolling both Mastodon and Twitter, and I gotta say, the tone difference is just STAGGERING…

Mastodon: I put a content warning on my dinner in case anyone doesn’t feel like looking at food right now.

Twitter: THE WORLD IS BURNING AND SO TOO SHOULD EVERYONE ON THIS HELLBIRD SITE, AAAAAH!!!

After kicking the tires on a number of iOS apps, I have settled on a paid one, called Toot!, which I quite like (I tend to use it on my iPad while I am relaxing on the sofa in the evenings, before I go to bed). In addition to my main account on the mastodon.social instance, I also have an account on the scholar.social academic-themed instance (an “instance” is the term for a Mastodon server). I have discovered, much to my dismay, that for some reason, my employer blocks the former site, but not the latter. I also can use Toot! to monitor the local/community timeline on scholar.social, choosing to follow people from my main account on mastodon.social.

One of the things that I really like about Mastodon is that it is possible—and, in some cases, even encouraged!—to switch instances. For example, I could decide that I prefer the local, more focused community over on scholar.social, and move my main account over there. While your “toots” (what Mastodon calls tweets) do not follow you over to your new instance, the social network of people you follow can be carried over! So you’re not starting off from scratch every time you move, like you do on Twitter. I quite like the flexibility this offers!

All is not perfect, however. One thing I do miss is the ability to following certain Twitter accounts that are essentially feeds of tech news (e.g. Ars Technica). While Ars Technica does offer many RSS feeds, it looks as though I will have to learn a bit of Unix (or pony up for a premium IFTTT account) in order to set up a bot to automatically post Ars Technica news items, which I can then follow on Mastodon. (The good news is, that once I set this up, anybody can then follow it! Or, I could just bug Ars Technica to set up a Mastodon feed…) I am already keeping abreast of news sources like WIRED, the Guardian, and The New York Times via Mastodon, using bots that either the publications themselves or other users have set up.

And, let’s face it, every change does take a bit of adjustment. I have discovered that, while I have severely curtailed the amount of time I now spend on Twitter, I now find myself checking my Mastodon timeline several times a day! I seem to be just as addicted to the dopamine rush of getting my toots favourited, boosted (i.e. retooted), and commented on! I’m just glad that I am conscious of this, which is, of course, the first step towards addressing the problem of how I use social media in general.

I have retained my Twitter account, to (automatically) cross-post new items posted to the RyanSchultz.com blog, as well as any public toots I make over on Mastodon. And, of course, I will still use Twitter Spaces social audio, as it seems to be taking market share away from the Clubhouse app, which appears to be slowly circling the drain as it bleeds users, even as it adds new features. So, you might still find me on Twitter from time to time, even as I try to wean myself off reliance on the service.

This picture still makes me laugh whenever I see it!

If you are intrigued by Mastodon and want to try it out for yourself, please go to joinmastodon.org, pick an instance/server, and create an account. It’s easy and free, and then you can follow me at @ryanschultz@mastodon.social—follow me and I’ll follow you back! Please note: If you follow me from an account with zero information (no icon, no banner, no profile, no posts, no comments), I will most likely block you instead of following you back.

UPDATED! HOUSEKEEPING NOTICE: Testing Patreon-Exclusive Blogposts on the RyanSchultz.com Blog

Over the past month, I have been testing out Patreon-exclusive, paywalled blogposts on my blog. For example, if you are not a Patreon patron (more info here), you would only see a paywall message when you click on the link below. (By the way, this post is, by far, the most popular blogpost on my blog, mainly because it is the first result when people do a Google search for “vrchat adult”.)

The Dirty Little Secret of VRChat—Hidden Adult Content

UPDATE May 9th, 2022: After watching BrandonFM’s documentary (more details here), I have made the decision to un-paywall that particular blogpost.

I set it so that you would have to sign up to be a patron of my Patreon, and have paid me at least US$1, to be able to access and read this blogpost (which, by the way, is quite safe for work AND DOES NOT PROVIDE ANY LINKS TO NSFW VRCHAT WORLDS, talking about the topic in a very general way only). I just got so tired of having a page with so much traffic, and so I put a paywall on it! It doesn’t seem to have dented the traffic one bit.

And, as I have discovered, people are indeed willing to pay me a dollar just to read that particular blogpost (or one of the other two I set up in this way). So, moving forward, I reserve the right to begin imposing such a paywall on some of my content.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

As I have said before on this blog a couple of years ago, I need become a little more business-minded about how I operate the RyanSchultz.com blog. Selling advertising and offering sponsored blogposts at US$50 a pop is part of that, and this will become an additional tool in my mercantile arsenal. I do hope that you will understand.

P.S. If you do want to make a one-time financial donation and don’t want to use Patreon to do it, you can buy me a coffee using Ko-Fi or Buy Me a Coffee. Thanks!

UPDATED! Cracked Tooth; No Blog

I have not been to the dentist in over two years, of course, because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. So when I started to develop a very painful toothache over the course of last week, I finally made an appointment and went to the dentists’ office yesterday.

It turns out that I have a cracked tooth under one of my dental fillings—no doubt due to all the teeth grinding I have been doing over the past couple of stressful years of pandemic living.

Because I cannot chew anything, I am living on a diet of various flavours of Boost and extra-strength painkillers, until my next dentist appointment tomorrow morning (with probably a few more visits to follow). I am NOT a happy camper, people.

So, unfortunately, the RyanSchultz.com blog (and the Metaverse Newscast show) will remain on hold for the foreseeable future, at least until I get my dental issues fixed. With the addition of a cracked tooth to the workload I was already trying to juggle, something has to give. Sorry, folks.

UPDATE April 21st, 2022: I had my cracked tooth fixed yesterday, but it’s going to take a few days to see if it’s completely better once it heals. I still might need a root canal (hopefully not!), and either way, the dentist wants to put a crown on top of it eventually. I still have partial dental coverage through my full-time paying job as an academic librarian, so I’m going to go with whatever the dentist recommends. Better to do it now than after I retire!

And I go back Friday for more dental work. Once all the work is completed, I will be fitted for a mouth guard, to protect against any further damage from my tooth-grinding!

Blog is still on hold for the time being. There’s no shortage of news to report on, and stories to write about, but I just don’t have time right now. Sorry!

UPDATE April 22nd, 2022: I’ve had four separate appointments with the dentist this week, to work on four different teeth. The good news is that I can chew food again without pain, but I still have a dull ache in my jaw tonight, where he patched up my cracked tooth.

I’m exhausted, completely worn out. Like I said, I’ll be back when I have time to post.

Housekeeping Notice: The RyanSchultz.com Blog Is on Hold Until Further Notice

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

While I have announced that I put my blog on indefinite hiatus so that I can focus on some important projects for my full-time paying job, you might have noticed that I have still slipped in one or two brief posts over the past week.

Yesterday, I learned that I have a family member who is seriously ill, to the extent that my entire family has driven or flown back to Winnipeg this week to see him in palliative care. I will not be sharing any further details about this, as I consider it a private matter.

But I’m juggling a lot at the moment, and frankly, I’m not juggling it very well. I’m feeling completely overwhelmed, angry, anxious, and depressed. And I am lashing out at the world in a way which means that I need to take a step back, and try to regain some equilibrium, to find some peace.

This blog will be on indefinite hold (with no exceptions) until further notice. I don’t know when I will be back. But I do need to step away from the keyboard.