Gonna maybe struggle to put some stuff into words re: Mastodon and social networking in general.
It looks to me like Mastodon did a pretty good job of fixing what it set out to fix about social networking, but I think there were major, fundamental assumptions about what social networking MUST include, that we kinda assumed were necessary, and I'm not only unconvinced of their necessity but also pretty convinced that they actively harm people.
I'm talking specifically about boosts and faves, or shares and likes or whatevs. I think having The Number visible was a thing that FB/Twitter did because they thought it would increase people's addiction to the services, not because they thought it would make the service better. I think seeing that number go up gives you a little hit of dopamine, feels good, and makes you want to generate more content that gets big numbers.
I think people get anxiety about their numbers, and that the numbers change the way people write and interact. Which would be great if it changed people for the better, but I think that on platforms like this, Big Numbers come about mostly from brevity - snarky comebacks and bumper-sticker smackdowns. I think this isn't a specific Mastodon problem but a social networking problem in general.
I think those numbers were put there by corporate sociopaths to ensure the health and continuation of the System, not the mental wellbeing of the people using it. I don't believe @Gargron had ill-intent in replicating that functionality here, 'cause those numbers are kinda just what everyone expects - I mean hell, that was kinda an unexamined assumption of my own until the past few weeks, "Social networking has numbers attached."
And I'm only thinking this now 'cause I'm like "Okay, big problem with Twitter, there are Nazis on it and all the tweets are in random order - turns out those were just dumb problems to have because of sheer incompetence and/or malice, now Mastodon's fixed them and it's kinda like I've had a taste of wine that doesn't have dogshit floating in it and now I'm going "Okay what else can we do to make this better.""
Of course there's no friggin' way @Gargron could take out boosts and faves, he'd get eviscerated for it - which makes this whole thing moot, but it's interesting to think about whether people would be more their true selves, and more mentally healthy, if they weren't keeping score.
Y'know what's a much bigger and even less surmountable problem with social networking? Phones. Phones on TOILETS. In my other life I run an online game, and I've put off making an app for it for the past decade because I didn't want people playing my game while shitting. I didn't want to be the owner and operator of a Toilet Game.
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