Meritocracy in Social Media

You hear it all the time (in fact I just did), Twitter is a waste of time, Facebook is a distraction, you’re just draining your day into Instagram. Day after day, people complain about the social media outlets that ‘consume all of their time.’ What people don’t realize is that it’s actually the other way around.

Lots of people, ask anyone, spend their time scrolling endlessly through bits and pieces of drivel, consuming them as they fly by their screens. Most don’t keep track of how much time they’re spending on the app of their choosing, and scroll longer than anticipated. The whole time, their brains have started to go into a lull, into an alpha wave state that is similar to relaxation with your eyes closed.

Social media is a tool. Imagine holding a hammer. One could hit themselves over the head with a hammer, (continue scrolling through meaningless drivel), or one could use the hammer to help build a house. Most people use social media to consume content rather than create any of it. Tapping on a funny cat video just to watch it then tap a like, rather than actually leading some sort of discussion on the funny behaviour that surrounds the catosphere.

Some people may say that even if you engage in conversation, it’s a fruitless effort and on some levels, I would agree with them. Especially in places like Instagram and Twitter, it’s really easy to find yourself the target of a rando just trying to comment/like your content to get your attention. It’s not hard to filter that out of your headspace though. Most of this disingenuous interaction is easy to spot. Most of it is super out of context (a window washer liking a your post because it’s a screenshot of the Windows OS and you’ve used #windows), or just straight up inconsequential (a single clapping emoji).

These people are those that I would categorize as shallow, selfish, or straight up narcissistic. These types of people are (generally) those that are looking for a shortcut, the easy way to their 15 minutes of fame. Places like Instagram and Twitter are a breeding ground for those types of people, especially due to the nature of the “AI” that’s employed. A post could go viral within a few hours and somehow hit the mainstream.

Mastodon, however, is different. Yes, you can boost (the equivalent to a Twitter retweet), but you can’t search for toots. Discoverability is limited to what’s currently flowing through the federated timeline (or the local one) and that leads to being closer to a meritocracy, hopefully. The one disadvantage I see is that you could simply “toot a lot” and then your discoverability is increased, but that can only go so far.

On Mastodon, there are no ads, there is no hashtag leaderboard, it’s not a pissing contest and it’s not even close to competitive. As it goes, Mastodon is a chasm of social media where people are more focused on talking with each other (and making an attempt at being pithy), rather than trying to become the next PewDiePie.


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