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Edward Ficklin

At the intersection of queer and erotic

Published about 1 year ago • 3 min read

Previously on…

Darlings, how are you? A warm welcome to those just joining us and a fabulous, sparkly hello to those returning. Today we’re picking up where we left off last time: how to make social media that works for us, darlings, not the stockholders and advertisers. We thrive at the intersection of queer and erotic and we deserve online spaces where we’re safe and in control. Truly independent social media. It has been brewing for a bit, and is having a moment in the spotlight as Twitter rediscovers the fail whale and the tech sector in general goes into cardiac arrest. (Lol, just kidding, we all know the tech sector has no heart!)

If you haven’t read the last Dispatch, it can be found here: We are not your free labor, we are not the product. You might find another recent Dispatch where I wax socialistic interesting reading as well: The FAANGS piercing our throats.

Last time, I laid out a vision for a queer and erotic friendly social media platform. The indie social media scene is all about smaller platforms, lower barriers to entry, and interconnectivity. So, yes, darlings, we can roll our own. But, there are two major factors to consider.

First, sustainability.

Someone’s gotta run the damn thing—and pay for it. The bigger it gets, the more it will cost. If it’s art focused, that means tons of media (images, video, audio) and that’s where things get expensive. A true collective powered by donations and/or volunteer labor? Something more business like—but hopefully not totally capitalistic (defeat the purpose, darlings!)?

On the human side, there’s serious labor (administrative and emotional) to running a community like this. People have to step up and be stewards—even warriors, at times. Proactive moderation and safety protocols are an absolute must! See So You Want to be an Instance Admin for some idea of what that means. There needs to be a large enough pool of brave souls to collectively shoulder the responsibility. If it falls to just one person, then the community will fall.

The massive influx of attention and new users to under-resourced Mastodon servers around the world has led to some recent and intense administrative flame outs. Servers hosting thousands of users have either gone into zombie mode or are shutting down with only minimal notice to users. One of the benefits of the fediverse is that server hopping—and taking your followers with you—is possible. Possible, but not necessarily easy. This is not about spilling tea and throwing shade (you can do that on your own time, darlings!). I’m pointing out that this is a fragile ecosystem and a very young community of communities finding its way. Sustainability, support, and safety must be paramount in every decision.

Second, reach.

A walled garden, no matter how lovely, has still got a wall! We’d all love a place to share our work and our selves without fear. At the same time, we also desire—or need—to reach new audiences for our work. Maintaining a balance would be difficult. The boundaries here are not clear cut—they shift. You might be working on something new and want to share or get feedback from trusted sources while at the same time you want your more polished work out in the world in the hands of admirers and purchasers. How does a single online community offer that entire spectrum to users?

Also, let’s face it, darlings, these communities will be tiny, tiny, tiny compared to the commercial behemoths—and that means reach is also diminished. Personally, I’m of the mindset that “love is greater than numbers” (h/t to the fabulous Eli Trier for putting it so succinctly). But, I don’t want to dismiss the concern out of hand. “Your mileage may vary” as they say.

Where to from here?

Well, first, join me in the fediverse! You’ll find me at https://artisan.chat/@papertiger if you’re already in the know. If you want a gentle introduction, I suggest reading this guide to kick things off: How to Get Started on Mastodon. Then, point your browser to https://mastodon.art to see if they’re accepting new users. If they’re not, email me and let’s see what we can figure out. Acclimating to a new online experience, a new way of being and interacting in social media, is a necessary precursor to creating our own community. Gotta know the lay of the land, darlings.

It’s early days still and things are a bit rough. Technical kinks pop up, of course. More importantly, moderation around erotic content and charged topics like systemic racism are being debated and worked out in real time. Read this for a glimpse of what’s percolating: The Whiteness of Mastodon. For all my gushing in these two Dispatches, we’ve only just scratched the surface. There’s promise and peril galore in this strange new world. Join me as we go boldly, where no one has gone before.

Now is the time for those with the capacity to be stewards and warriors and the vision to clear a path for others to step up and begin transforming social media into something truly liberational. If any of this makes you tingly, darlings, smash that reply button or hit me up on Mastodon to get the conversation started!

Until next time, flame on! 🔥


This has been the Queer Quantum Dispatch, brought to you by artist Edward Ficklin. If you enjoyed it, smash the forward button and share the love. 💖 If you got this from a friend (and what a friend!) subscribe for more!

Edward Ficklin

Edward Ficklin (he/him), the maverick artist not afraid to say gay, is a self-taught painter, writer, publisher and sometimes technologist. He creates sensuous and erotically-tinged queer surrealist art, publishes queer-centered sci-fi comix, and pontificates regularly on a range of topics in his Queer Quantum Dispatch newsletter.

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