I recently joined a Mastodon server years after ditching Facebook (and Instagram) and dramatically scaling back my Twitter use (if there’s interest, I can write about why I quit most social media).

Mastodon is a breath of fresh air. It’s decentralized and you can run your own instance - meaning you own your data - and “federate” with other instances. The best way I can describe Mastodon Facebook-groups-meet-Twitter. On blockchain of course (just kidding).

Even though many concepts are similar to Twitter’s, the curve to understanding Mastodon can be steep. Kev Quirk has a post where he explains these concepts. I particularly like his explanation of federation:

The Mastodon network is made up of individual servers, called Instances. If we use our email analogy; think of Mastodon as email as a whole. So if Mastodon is “email”, then an Instance would be an email provider. For example, Gmail, Hotmail, or Zoho.

They’re all completely different servers that are run by completely different companies, but Gmail, Hotmail and Zoho can all send email to one another.

Mastodon is the same. My instance, Fosstodon, is run my myself and my friend Mike. Yet we can Toot with thousands of other Mastodon servers around the world that we do not run.

Kev Quirk: How Does Mastodon Work?

Barring the largest instances, the communities are much smaller. Whereas Twitter is a football stadium where the loudest person gets some attention, Mastodon is like a living room where people don’t yell at all. People are nice and respectful. The pace is much slower.

It gives you time to interact, and not just engage.