Jay Little
Echo Chamber Exodus: Bye Bye Bluesky

07/23/2023 16:32:51

As regular readers know, I have long questioned the value of social media and I have struggled with the question of how involved I should be with it. This morning I decided to quit Bluesky permanently because the bulk of the community there seems hellbent on ostracizing and ejecting anybody who doesn't fully subscribe to their specific brand of group think.

I wish there was a kinder way to put it. But there isn't. When I first arrived on Bluesky back on June the 1st, I was pretty hopeful about it's prospects. It was elite (due to being invite only), largely liberal and seemed like a relatively decent enough place at first glance. As is often the case in life, the first look was deceiving.

The initial problem I had is that the content wasn't really what I was looking for. There are not a lot of tech people posting about interesting tech topics there. At least not when I got there (more on that later). In addition while there were a few politicians like AOC there, none of them were posting a whole lot, presumably because their posts had a lot more reach and exposure on other platforms.

But hey, its a new social network so that's fine. I didn't make it my primary social media home, as that honor belonged and still belongs to Mastodon, but I was okay with hanging around and seeing how things progressed. Being near the ground floor of a promising social media platform had its own appeal, so why not?

Well last weekend I began to realize why not when some random internet troll got themselves an invite code, proceeded to create an account whose handle contained a obfuscated racial slur (presumably the N-word, but I didn't see any of this firsthand, so I don't actually know for sure) and then proceeded to spew a bunch of vile racist shit all over the platform. They were of course banned within a few hours as any sane person would expect and the resulting drama began to die down...

...only it didn't. The Bluesky community, specifically black members of that community, were fuming pissed over it. They blamed Bluesky for allowing it to happen and they demanded that Bluesky collectively apologize to them. I'll be honest: I don't get this and I still don't get it. I expressed this view and stated that I didn't feel it was appropriate to hold the Bluesky developers responsible for any bigoted troll who happens to show up and be an asshole. My only expectation is that the platform react appropriately by sandboxing or booting the person entirely, which is exactly what Bluesky did.

Apparently this is an out modded view of how social media should work. Expressing my view on this last weekend resulted in me receiving wave after wave of disparaging and nasty feedback from other members of the community. It go so bad last weekend that I basically had to just put my phone into Do Not Disturb for most of last Saturday so that I wouldn't keep it going by attempting to rationally respond. One of the worst parts is that the second anybody decided you were a piece of shit, they typically say something nasty and immediately block you afterwards so you can't respond but you still get the nasty notification.

People on Bluesky clearly want an echo chamber. They don't want rational discussion and they don't want to be challenged in any significant way. This spilled over onto Mastodon (e.g. here) which was a damn shame, but I kind of did that to myself as I took to posting about this on Mastodon. I don't want an echo chamber. I see very little value in the concept of engaging only with people who totally agree with you. It is my view that one cannot grow as a person, when one surrounds themselves only with yes people.

At some point this got even more depressing. This morning I was greeted by this comment in which some entitled poster I had managed to piss off by proxy decided to basically shit on my entire career as a tech worker by implying that I had no sense of ethics. Fuck her. I've spent literal decades fostering and fighting for ethics in tech. This blog serves as a permanent diary of sorts when it comes to my journey thru tech and ethics has played a massive role in that:

Bluesky Final Straw

I realize that the negative impact of this may not make sense with the amount of context I am giving it, but I gotta be honest: That post was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. So with that being what it was, I decided that it was time to do what I should've done a week ago and call it. Fuck Bluesky's largely cloistered, caustic and entitled community:

Bluesky Final Post

So yet again we circle back around to what is now becoming an almost unifying theme throughout a lot of my blog posts here as of late: The internet is not nor will it ever be a safe space. If you want to build a place where you can state and share your view of the world without being directly accosted, then you actually need to get off your ass and claim your own corner of the online world for yourself aka setup a blog and disable comments.

The follow up to that statement should be obvious but as I want to make my position on this stunningly clear I will vocalize it yet again: Social media networks are a cancer. People who use them are less happy than people who don't use them. This is a proven fact.

One can't help but to wonder why so many people on Bluesky who are so unhappy with it, persist in using it. It's almost as if they are addicted and unable to wean themselves away from that addiction. It's gotten so bad that I honestly wonder if social media platforms, much like guns, serve any legitimate purpose at all as all they seem to be capable of is hurting people.

Imagine that. Like most things I've written, somebody else has already written a better version of it. When it comes to putting distance between yourself and social media, Kris Nóva said it better:

We have lost our prerogative to enact change. We aren’t using social media to drive action. We are using it to farm a false sense of worth. To cast stones at anyone who foolishly stumbles into the latest virtue-trap. Petty nuance has replaced bold hope.

This observation shakes me to my core.

Broadcasting virtue to the world will never provide internal fulfillment regardless of how true it may be. Virtue signaling is effective in shifting public perception, but remains powerless in shifting an internal self-image.

You can’t tweet your way to self-respect.

She's right. There is no denying it, at least from where I am standing. Nevertheless, I'm not yet ready to fully follow in the footsteps of Kris Nóva. I'm gonna stick with Mastodon as I have found my experience there to be more educational and fulfilling then most other social media platforms. I also plan on sticking with Tildes and Hacker News for now. I was briefly on Lemmy, but honestly it just wasn't doing it for me, so I have also cut loose of that as of today. I fully admit that sticking with any of it at all is probably a mistake.

In any event, I wish all of you still on Bluesky the best of luck. There were some genuinely nice people over there who willing to have an actual discussion on real topics and I lament the loss of my ability to communicate with those people.

TLDR: If a social media platform is making you miserable: Dump it. You are there by choice. There is no virtue in needless suffering. If your "friends" see virtue in it, they aren't actually your friends.

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