The Cambridge Analytical debacle from earlier this year and the subsquent #deletefacebook storm brought me into the alternative social media platform Diaspora. At the time, as I wrote here, I had hoped to leave the walled gardens forever. Initially I did just that but practicalities changed that forced isolation quite a bit. In some cases, like DDG, I’m still 99% using the open alternative. In others, like YouTube, I’m mostly using the old system because I just can’t get what I need out of the alternative system yet (although I still try more and more every week). However for much of it, especially on the social media side, it’s more of a mix. I’m on Diaspora as much as I’m on Facebook. I’m on Mastodon more than I’m on Twitter, but that was always a small platform for me versus my usage of Facebook. The best way to think of this blend for me is that I try to make Diaspora and Mastodon my primary platform and Facebook my secondary one, with Twitter being a distant third.
What that means practically is that I’m pretty much logged into Diaspora, Mastodon, and Facebook continuously throughout the day. The first places I’m posting to are Diaspora and Mastodon. The first places I’m checking posts is Diaspora and Mastodon. Most of the new activity from me is on Diaspora and Mastodon with manual cross posting, thanks again Facebook for screwing up your API permanently to prevent external posting, when I want to share the same thing on Facebook as well. Because I have just over 1000 friends on Facebook and almost all of them are people I’ve interacted with in real life (most mere acquaintances or met once at a social function or something) there is just a larger volume of relevant and more personally resonating posts from others I interact with. So if one were to look at my activity feeds and notifications on a given morning when I start the day you’d see tons of activity on Facebook and a little activity on Diaspora and Mastodon. Today was different.
Today the equation was reversed. Today I had more interactions to wade through on Diaspora. I had more relevant interactions to wade through at that. I had more notifications to wade through. I even got comparable engagement on my cross-posted material from late last night on all three systems. That’s the first time that’s happened since I went back to having a foot in both worlds!
Is it that I crossed a tipping point in people I’m connected to on these alternative social media systems? Is it that the influx of Google+ users have caused a spike in engagement across the systems in question? I don’t know the answer to why, and this will probably stay a noteworthy exception rather than a rule moving forward. However it can’t be a bad sign, except in one way. In the span of how long I’ve been writing this article, which is a free association lasting 15 minutes, I’ve already received almost ten notifications on Diaspora. I know that the notification controls are not as fine grained on Diaspora as they are on Facebook. It’d be a great problem to have to need to tackle that sort of feature request in the near future :).