500 days on the Fediverse
A seven-minute review
I joined the Fediverse in February 2019 after having erased my 9-year old accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
I erased my old accounts because I was tired of being a supporter of networks owned by Mark Zuckerberg, a man that doesn't respect anyone but himself and who has made his name and fortune based on the creation of networks that make money through the abusive use of our personal data whether we agree with it or not! This was the only reason why I left his networks. I had to be true to my principles! There was no other reason whatsoever. There had been absolutely no problem with anyone during those 9 years!
That happened in December 2018. In February 2019, as I told you before, I joined Mastodon.
So, how has my 500-day experience on the Fediverse been?, you may ask.
Well, I can say that travelling this road hasn't been as smooth as I wished it to be. Let's see why...
Some days after I joined Scholar.social, I replied to this lady, trying to help her by offering a different perspective on some issue. I didn't understand the meaning of “Don't @ me.” on her toot. (Yes, I had had a Twitter account, but I didn't use it much.) My reply to her toot was met with aggressiveness and impoliteness. I apologised, several times, saying I hadn't understood the meaning of “Don't @ me.” to no avail. And there I was, feeling bad about nothing, because I had meant no harm to anyone and I was met with anger, frustration and I don't know what else...
Then, there were some terrorist attacks and I made a boost or a toot about them without CW. It was erased and I got a warning because I was violating the instance rules. That was true. So, I thought I needed to find an instance where saying that I felt deeply sorry for people suffering at the hands of others, regardless of any religion, country, gender, whatever, and without a CW, wouldn't go against the rules. That's how I joined Mastodon.social.
I was happy there, except for the fact that, sometimes, 500 characters weren't enough... I said it, politely and, in the meantime, I found Write.as, Friendica and Pleroma, places where I could write more if I wanted to.
Lately I had also the privilege of being called a “troll” because I said that Brazil and Portugal had a common past! Well, so far no one had called me a “troll”! I'll take it as a compliment because, even though I don't agree with what happened there during the Portuguese “Discoveries”, it's a fact that we share a common past and it's also a fact that Brazil wouldn't even exist today if it weren't for the Portuguese. It would be something completely different. I don't know if it would be better or worse. It would simply be different and it wouldn't even be called Brazil!
Then, exactly one year and one day after I had joined Mastodon.social, I received an e-mail saying that my account had been suspended and all my toots and media completely erased from the Fediverse. Here is the reason why that happened:
“Some of your toots have been reported as advocating hate, or violence against minorities.”
This came to me as an absolute surprise since no one had ever complained about this! No one had replied to any toot of mine accusing me of having done such a thing! No further explanation or evidence of my transgression was given to me!
So, after exactly one year and one day all my thoughts got erased!
Besides the shock, this also hurt my feelings. First, because I didn't do such a thing; secondly, because the bare thought that someone could think that I could have done it hurts my feelings even more!
It also hurt my feelings that so few people expressed their views on the matter. But this comes at no surprise because I left all my friends and family behind on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
It also hurt my feelings because I had the pleasure of contributing to the project by translating Mastodon into European Portuguese because I thought it's a good project and I always had wanted to contribute with something to the Open Source community. I still think it's a good project and I don't regret having contributed to it with my translation.
I'm 50 years old now and I've been an Open Source Software user and supporter for about about 20 years. I've bought Open Source Software regularly and supported projects by using them and spreading the word about them! I've probably been part of the community for more time than the age of some instance admins! Not that I'm better because I'm older. It's just that I've been around longer. So, perhaps I, as well as all other people, deserve some respect and consideration!
And this suspension of my account makes no sense to me!
Unfortunately, I've found that there's far too much bigotry and radicalism in some constellations of our beautiful Fediverse!
But, was it everything bad about the Fediverse?
No, I've found ways to contribute my two cents to the community by translating Mastodon into European Portuguese; I found other interesting constellations on the Fediverse, like Friendica, Pleroma, Write.as, Pixelfed, PeerTube and Lemmy; I found Tuxedo Computers, from where I ordered my new PC; I've found some interesting and good people; and I've been away from the big data-collecting social networks.
On the other hand, I've reinforced the belief I already had that you can't trust your work to anyone! and, — this is the beauty of our lovely Fediverse —, when you're not welcome somewhere, there's always some place where you'll feel happy and welcome! This was the way I discovered libranet.de, pleroma.site and masto.pt, a small Portuguese instance. I thank all the admins of these three Fediverse stars for welcoming me!
All in all, these 500 days on the Fediverse have been rewarding and I don't intend to return to the mainstream social networks. But...
I'm sure that our Fediverse could use a little less bigotry, aggressiveness and impoliteness, and much more openness.
Using Open Source Software to build great software and networks is not enough. If we want to make a change in our societies and make the Fediverse great, we need to support it with our deeds!