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A lot of people tell me I'm mild-mannered. I know why. Because I choose to be polite and give people the benefit of the doubt more often--and for far longer--than they deserve. But I hope those same people don't mistake my polite demeanor for a deficiency of spirit or courage; for apathy. I will stand up and speak out when necessary, and without apology. Even as my voice shakes. 1/16

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I'm new to this space called mastodon and the fediverse. I'm new to this so-called “social” medium. It has been just over a year since I joined and decided to participate in this experiment. Yes, it's an experiment. Make no mistake; all of this is very much in its infancy. How can it not be, when the entirety of the human species is just barely adolescent? 2/16

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We are far, far away from being mature and benevolent participants in society and in the natural ecosystems unfortunate enough to find themselves inhabited (read: cursed) by our presence. There are myriad reasons for this, but I'm not going off on that tangent at the moment. 3/16

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Right, experiment. So, what's the null hypothesis here? What's the statement that is to be disproved? That this space is mostly indistinguishable from its corporate counterpart? That's easy, of course it is. I don’t know why anyone would think otherwise. It is inhabited by thousands upon thousands of the same humans from all over the world. I think of it like an apartment complex. Each building an instance. 4/16

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Can you honestly tell me that if you take thousands of people from different backgrounds, different upbringings, different cultures, different ideologies, and cram them all into a shared space, that you won't have petty infighting, elitist cliques and all the resultant negative behaviors I so often see good fedizens calling out and reporting? 5/16

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Well, then, what makes the fediverse and mastodon different? I believe it's the potential for this space to be better. Potential only. That's made possible by the tools built into this space for administration and moderation. But, like any tool, these can be misused and abused. Responsibilities can be—and clearly are being—neglected by many.

I know, this is such a tired piece, but bear with me for a moment. 6/16

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Is there racism and are there other forms of irrational hatred and toxicity in the fediverse? Hell yes, it's blatantly obvious. Are there admins and mods on a power trip? Ha! Yes, it's equally as obvious. Are there users who spit venom at those they dislike with a deliberate intent to hurt, who think they are better than others, who use their personal history of traumas and abuses as an excuse to malign others? Do their admins enable them? Yes, yes, yes and yes. 7/16

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But I also see users and admins who don't engage in or tolerate such behaviors. I have come across admins who do take their responsibility seriously. And I do see users who respect others regardless of differences in country of origin, color of skin, culture and ethnicity, first language, shape of body, sexual preference, gender alignment, and so on.

Sound familiar? Yeah, just look out your window. 8/16

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So, this space isn't as much revolutionary as it is very simply ordinary. It's a space for people to connect, share ideas, and be whomsoever they want or need to be. Is there potential for this space to be safer, kinder and more mature? Of course, and that needs constant, thankless work. As such, I do not envy the roles of admins and mods. I respect those who tirelessly put in the time and effort to weed out the bad actors and create a better space for their user base. 9/16

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So, what's my point? If this space is occupied by a similar mix of gems and trash as its corporate counterpart, what's the takeaway? Give up? Why not abandon this experiment and move out of this apartment complex? 10/16

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Well, for one there are no practical, plausible alternatives. But I'm not here to argue technicalities. I sincerely believe this place can be much, much better than it currently is. The technology and infrastructure are built-in to enable us to do the hard work; to call out bad behavior, to block and ban bad actors, to de-federate from bad instances, and so on. 11/16

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But let’s keep in mind that these are all merely neutral actions. These tools enable us to create a better space for ourselves, inside these walls. Such actions, however, are not positive work towards addressing racism, bigotry, sexism, xenophobia and the plethora of social ills we encounter outside these walls, and which run rampant and unchecked everywhere in the world, especially in the current global political climate. 12/16

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Is the fediverse a microcosm of the world outside? Please, no, let's not be so naive as to think that a base of thousands or even millions of users can ever come close to being truly representative of the vast multitude of varied experiences and infinitely complex interactions occurring every second of every day between more than 7-billion humans. 13/16

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So, what's the plan, if ever there was one? What can good fedizens do? Engagement in the world outside. Use this space to communicate, to plan, to practice, to share in each other’s happiness and support each other through sorrows. But the progressive action has to take place outside these walls. And it has to be multifaceted. And it's not easy. But it is important and it is essential. 14/16

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For starters, go out and make your voice heard through your ballot and kick those bigoted, self-centered, capitalist, grade-A assholes out of public offices. They are everywhere. In personal spheres, be kind and supportive, realize that our experiential lenses are very narrow and do not give us the right to pass judgement upon others. 15/16

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And in here? Listen, or rather, read 10 times more than you type. There are a lot of good voices speaking good words. Learn to recognize them. Engage with respect and an acceptance of the fact that everyone cannot, will not and should not agree on every single idea. Save one: Do no harm to anyone, in any way. And never write anything that you wouldn’t say to someone face-to-face.

Every single person has the universal right to live in peace and happiness. 16/16

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@shahaan
Good thread!

I especially liked "So, this space isn't as much revolutionary as it is very simply ordinary"

I know this on some levels; on others, I've picked up what I've been told explicitly, that this is a revolutionary new thing. It's a weird uh, dissonance? I guess is the word? so idk it's good have the explicit reminder of something i did know implicitly, that i didn't really know i knew bc i never thought about it.

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@shahaan
I went to a festival-ish thing the past three years, it's intended as a very accepting and a safe yet challenging space. People are encouraged to be whatever is deeply authentic to them, and that can be challenging for others.

And one reminder that is stated often: while it is a unique space, it's not perfect; we're all coming in from 'outside', bringing crappy societal things we've picked up from there (Not that everyone seems to deeply get it..)

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@shahaan
And that applies to every space with people. I would say that yeah, fedi / masto are a bit different from other spaces. (Having said that, many other social online spaces are culturally different from each other; compare facebook and tumblr, for example. But i digress.)

But we're all still coming here from 'outside' and bringing all the crap we've learned and not yet unlearned in with us.

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@shahaan "Ten times," so now you're going to read War &Peace

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@shahaan

For my own interest, and to make it easier for me to read later, I've charted your thread. It's an interesting read ... thank you.

solipsys.co.uk/Chartodon/Shaha

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@ColinTheMathmo thank you, I appreciate it

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@shahaan well said!

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