The Webdev Social Schism

A while back, Zach Leatherman commented that Eleventy will need to maintain a presence on Twitter to stay in touch with portions of the webdev community. In particular, the “JavaScript folks” that have “dug in there,” and this really struck a cord with something I’ve been feeling in my gut for a while now.

I’m afraid the web development community has fractured in two.

On one side, we have the “open web” idealists, who were eager to move their online social presence to the Fediverse. They love that it’s decentralized. They value that it’s not beholden to any capitalistic influence. They either turn a blind eye to the flaws of Mastodon, or believe they are far outweighed by the benefits.

On the other side, we have the Twitter holdouts. They tend to poke fun at the idealism of Mastodon and the first group’s doe-eyed embracing of it. Sure, these folks enjoy laughing at Elon Musk’s fumbling of Twitter, but they aren’t about to leave unless it collapses entirely. And, hey wouldn’t you know it, Jack Dorsey has an alternative in the works that this group is eager to get on board with.

Obviously, these are generalizations. There are plenty of people who are maintaining a presence on both networks, or are mostly on one because that’s where more of their social circle happens to be now.

I suspect this is highly correlated with Chris Coyier‘s “Great Divide” — a sort of next step in the evolution of those differences.

The political factor

Twitter was a fantastic thing for the webdev community. In many ways, it made the community what it is today. And plenty of words have been said mourning the apparent pending loss of that era.

But what really concerns me now, as things have been shaking out for half a year now, is how much this divide feels like a political one.

By and large, it feels to me like the Mastodon contingent tends to be mostly liberal — skeptical of the capitalist idealogy of a corporate-run social network. And the Twitter holdouts tends to be more conservative — derisive of the hippie-dippy decentralized network.

This feels ugly

I don’t want to be on only one side of this. I don’t want anybody to be on only one side of this. While there’s certainly something comfortable about huddling up with folks I agree with, I want to participate with the entirety of our industry. And I certainly don’t want to see us split long-term along a largely political divide. That’s gross.

I don’t know what the solution is. I’m wondering whether I need to pick my Twitter account back up, or get active on Blue Sky, if I can ever get in there. I have major ideological problems with both of them, but maybe I need to choose more important priorities than those ideals. Maybe it’s worth a compromise there in order to not feed the divide further.

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