A Mastodon instance for Christians
I’m currently in the process of relaunching my own instance of the Mastodon social network. Before I go any further, let me explain what Mastodon is.
What is Mastodon?
Many people think of Mastodon as little more than an alternative to Twitter, which is only somewhat true. Like Twitter, it’s a social network where people post short updates, follow one another, and reply to one another. Unlike Twitter, however, it is decentralized. No one owns or fully controls Mastodon. Its code is open source, and anyone can launch their own instance.
Think of Mastodon like the email of social networks. No one owns email. If I want a personal email address, I have a plethora of options—Gmail, iCloud, Protonmail, and so on. More to the point, I can send emails to anyone and everyone. It doesn’t matter which email provider they use. Gmail communicates with iCloud. iCloud communicates with Protonmail. Protonmail communicates with Gmail.
When you register an account with Twitter, you are in Twitter’s world. When you register an account with Facebook, the same is true. Facebook doesn’t communicate with Twitter, and Twitter doesn’t communicate with Facebook. They are closed environments. But Mastodon is different. You can choose which Mastodon instance to join much like choosing an email provider, but your account can communicate with any other account across all other instances.
This is why an account handle on Mastodon is not @johnsmith. Instead, it’s @[email protected] You may be @johnsmith on multiple social networks, but @johnsmith on Twitter cannot communicate with @someoneelse on Instagram. On Mastodon, though, @[email protected] can communicate with @[email protected]
The advantages of a decentralized network such as Mastodon are (1) you aren’t a product being sold to the highest bidder, (2) you own your data, and (3) you can join a niche group of people with similar interests while still having the option to connect with people outside of that group.
Why launch a new instance?
I love Mastodon, but similar to Twitter, it can be a cesspool of depravity. Many instances embrace a distinctly anti-biblical worldview. Finding a server to call home isn’t easy for the Christian. In all of my searching, I have discovered only two “Christian” instances. One is Catholic, and the other appears to have stopped accepting new registrations.
To be clear, there are good people all over Mastodon. There are believers to be found on servers that aren’t specifically focused on the Christian faith. I recently joined indieweb.social and befriended the administrator. Before my first post, I asked him whether my kind of messages would be welcome, and his reply was positively encouraging.
Even so, I’d like to provide myself and other Christians a comfortable place for online fellowship. On indieweb.social, for example, I’m the only member not talking about technology. I’d like to see others posting Bible verses, Spurgeon quotes, and theologically-rich encouragements.
So, I’m relaunching my instance of Mastodon after shutting it down a few months ago. At the time, it seemed silly to pay the expense of a server for only a handful of users, but I’ve reconsidered. I support a decentralized Web and will do my part to contribute.
The server will be up and running soon enough.
To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please give it a try. While it may be a ghost town for a little while, use it anyhow. Let newcomers see an active network of fellow believers when they arrive. You don’t have to leave Twitter or whatever network you’re already on. In fact, you can use a service such as Crossposter to send your tweets to Mastodon, or vice versa.
I’ll keep you updated.