Twitter, Mastodon, and Nostalgia

I’m seeing this pervasive strain of discussion lately that basically boils down to “ahhh, now this is the internet I remember!” And as someone who is old enough to remember that internet and have participated in it, I find it frustrating. This tendency to look back with impenetrable nostalgia sells short not only the thing you (think) you remember but also the new thing you’re comparing it to.

There are a lot of things I like about Mastodon, else I wouldn’t be there. But saying it’s just like OldTwitter, or usenet, or mIRC, or whatever your personal “best time of being online and social was” is selling it short. There’s been a concurrent discussion around how Mastodon is (or isn’t) a perfect Twitter replacement, which ignores all they ways it’s not and doesn’t try to be (and I’m not talking about federation, but actual features and use cases).

With that, I don’t think we should be throwing out everything Twitter was or meant to people. Twitter was never “for me,” but I have friends and people I care about that did get a lot of out of it, and not a few of them still do. There are real things that Twitter did – and does – do for people that mastodon does not.

And all of that’s getting lost in people either rushing to declare Mastodon the best, newest thing ever OR that it’s a return to form of OldThing that they liked. But OldThing wasn’t useful in the same way to everyone as it was to you, the same way Twitter wasn’t – and isn’t – useful to me. And Mastodon won’t mean anything to some people who whom Twitter DOES, and that’s okay too. It won’t mean what OldThing might have meant to them if it was still around, either.

This post was originally a Mastodon thread.