It’s not you. It’s me. (Taking a break from Mastodon)

I’m closing up shop on my Mastodon for the foreseeable future.

I have for the most part very much enjoyed my experience on the Fediverse, and experts say that Mastodon is one of the components of the Fediverse.

Mastodon is fine if you want to spend time on there. But increasingly, I don’t.

Nothing personal…

I started my social media journey with BBSes and forums and guestbooks, the latter of which I made a video about:

I entered young adulthood during the rise of MySpace and eventually Facebook. I enjoyed my experience on both of those platforms… until I didn’t. At the time I quit both, they felt like stale husks of the fun, weird places they’d once been for me.

Twitter became my jam around 2014 or so, mostly as a lurker (and eventually with a few thousand followers), but as a queer lady in a local community with a vibrant Twitter presence, it was fun… until it wasn’t.

In 2022 I discovered Mastodon and the Fediverse, largely through a fantastic local community server. Because a good chunk of familiar folks were there on my local server, it felt like home. And for the most part, still does- that local Mastodon community is incredible, and I’m beyond sad to be walking away from it.

I’ve been here for two years, and in that time, have learned quite a bit of how the Fediverse works, how Mastodon works, and most importantly, how I work with social media. And I’m becoming increasingly convinced of one thing- me and “microblogging” don’t actually work well together, and it’s no longer fun.

Maybe it never was.

Nuance: a dirty word on Mastodon

I am someone who believes strongly in nuance, and this world is increasingly devaluing nuance.

Lately whenever I toot (that’s Mastodon for “post” or “tweet” for those of you in a Twitter mindset about it) about something that gets more than a couple of boosts, I’m overwhelmed with comments- mostly positive, but some of the nasty ones are really troubling.

A few months back, I posted about needing to buy something from Menards – a large regional chain of home improvement stores. I had folks berating me for shopping there (due to understandable disagreements about labor rights), folks berating those folks, and a whole lot of nastiness, some of which escalated to threatening posts and emails. You might call it “reply-guy syndrome” which is alive and well on the Fediverse. And what those reply-guys failed to consider – and what I was afraid to mention – is that where I live, sometimes the only choice for certain household items is between Menards and Amazon- nuance!

As I’ve been slowly changing careers from “sysadmin mom with occasional YouTube videos” to “full time maker”, it feels like the more I post, the more reply-guy syndrome rears its ugly head. I toot about search engines, and I’ve got reply-guys telling me my search engine preferences are bad. I toot about Matrix, and I’ve got reply-guys berating me for not using XMPP instead. I toot about Wayland, and people are starting arguments in the comments about Hyprland. It’s not fun anymore.

And it isn’t just me experiencing this: a well known YouTuber recently tooted about how YouTube Premium was actually a pretty good deal if you watch a lot of YouTube. I agree! But seeing the comments under that post really gave me pause. I was terrified to tell folks that I agree, or that I use YouTube Premium too [gasp].

Adding to this problem is that Mastodon can be hard to navigate, because if you’ve blocked or muted a server, you may have a broken chain of replies. My server (correctly) muted some of the larger unrestricted servers, and that means when reply-folk over there reply at me, I don’t see those responses unless I’m following the sender. But I do see folks replying to them- this gets weirder and more complex the larger a base of replies are. Positive or negative, it’s a tough thing to work around.

All that aside, the problem isn’t just “bad comments”, because I’m a grown woman and can take critique. The biggest problem is that a portion of those folks take screenshots and share them with unsavory folks. Not a week goes by that I don’t get some nasty email from someone I blocked on Mastodon. Some of these have been threatening, and it’s gotten to the point where before I toot, I think “will someone threaten to kill me over this?” That’s not fun.

I’m just a mom making videos about tech. But to me at least, not even Mastodon is free from the worst tendencies of a world where nuance is set aside for gamified social capital. I shouldn’t have a fight-or-flight response when I post about shopping for tools.

Microblogging vs longer form information

In longer form online content, such as blog posts and videos, nuance gets to shine. I know we live in a world where short form “TikTok-style” content is becoming more popular, but it’s not what I make, and I’ll probably never make it, because I don’t really enjoy consuming it.

I like longer form content, with explanation, nuance, snark, and fun. Microblogging – the short form Twitter-style “posts” that Mastodon, Bluesky, and Threads replicates, is increasingly feeling like the written version of TikTok- it’s just a chance to dunk on someone else to get a higher digital score.

It didn’t feel that way in the past, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe that’s what it always was. If that’s the case, I’ve wasted a lot of time, and I’m going to stop wasting it.

What comes next for me?

I might delete my Mastodon. I might keep it but eventually just use it to post links to my work elsewhere. I might decide I’ve judged Mastodon harshly and return in the future. There are no promises here.

As far as social media is concerned, I am going to be focusing more of my social energy on my Patrons and Ko-Fi supporters who make Veronica Explains possible. I will still be posting my videos on PeerTube (via, as well as my YouTube channel, and writing longer form posts on this blog. I might even try and make this blog ActivityPub friendly- who knows?

What I know right now is that Mastodon has increasingly felt like a place that takes my energy and gives me little in return, and I’m excited to set microblogging aside. Maybe you should, too.

If there’s a social media site in your life that isn’t benefiting you, consider dropping it. Seriously- life is short and we only get so much time. Don’t waste it making fart jokes and dunking on companies you don’t like.

Or whatever, you do you. 🙂

Brief update 2024-04-04

I’ve decided to attempt to bridge this blog to the Fediverse via the ActivityPub plugin. This should hopefully allow some of my followers and supporters over on Mastodon, and other services, to be able to engage and comment on the blog, directly from the Fediverse.

I don’t know for sure how well this will go, so stay tuned, I guess.

Thanks for reading!

The written version of Veronica Explains is made possible by my Patrons and Ko-Fi members. This website has no ad revenue, and is powered by everyday readers like you. Sustaining membership starts at USD $2/month, and includes perks like a weekly member-only newsletter. Thank you for your support!

My blog is using the ActivityPub plugin to join the Fediverse. That means you can can comment on blog posts using some ActivityPub services, such as Mastodon and Mbin, and your comments may show up here publicly. To leave a comment, try copying the URL for this article into your instance's search bar, then reply to the post that pops up- it should show up here!

You can also subscribe to future updates from my website right from your favorite ActivityPub service. Try searching for in the search bar. Just hit "follow" or "subscribe" on the profile that pops up, and future posts should automatically federate to you!

1 thought on “It’s not you. It’s me. (Taking a break from Mastodon)”

  1. @posts Hi Veronica. Thank you for sharing your view on how microblogging has been working for you. But foremost, thank you for bringing so much value to our "global village"!

    I particularly like the take on nuance — but that might be because I too believe that rejection of nuance is a thing now. Maybe this is a natural knee-jerk reaction to being flooded with information, social interaction, and job instability in our day and age?

    Also, micro-blogging does not take a particularly large part in my day-to-day computing. I have been spared of some of the effects you refer to in your post, but then again I am placed WAY more towards the consumer end of the spectrum in the online world.

    In any case, I loved reading your post. Time and life permitting, I am interested in more of your nuanced pieces!

    PS: I am not sure whether this post will integrate well with ActivityPub. Crossing fingers!

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