Small Communities

Chris Hannah:

We’ve gone from having small local communities, to what can feel like at times, having the entire world in your living room.

It’s probably why some people just make their online presence completely private. Because then they can control the scope of their interaction, and avoid an abundance of negativity in the case where something was picked up by an algorithm and shown to a huge number of people.

This post has been rattling around in my head since it was published about a week ago, but I was reminded of it again this weekend when I saw Alec Watson’s frustration with the replies he sees on Mastodon. It seems audience and scale can change that dramatically. Hannah suggests Mastodon has a higher quality of interaction and, in my own use, I largely agree; a reply to a post I make is most often useful and interesting. But Watson has over thirty thousand followers and I can see how that could quickly become a problem.

A couple of years ago, Chris Hayes wrote for the New Yorker about how everyone is a little famous on the internet. It is not the first article to have made such an observation, but it is the one that has stuck with me since I linked to it. It still surprises me that social networks overwhelmingly default to public visibility and, most often, changing that affects everything in your account.