How Mastodon & Ecosia Can Save Your Soul
These days it’s hard not to become cynical about the Web!
Why? Just look at the powerful gatekeepers of social media and search like Facebook and Google.
Luckily there are also small but beautiful signs of hope in both realms.
Ethics vs Megalomania
Mastodon and Ecosia are just the two most prominent visionaries.
The trend of ethical online business can be felt in manifold places.
You don’t have to screw people to earn a living anymore. You can spread joy, happiness and love while making money!
Many people want to get rich no matter what or at least they think so.
Some people want to become obnoxious billionaires like
- Mark “data broker” Zuckerberg
- Larry “undead” Page
- Elon “attacks Mars” Musk
When I started out on the Web in the late nineties it was full of enthusiasm and seemingly limitless possibilities.
It was about equality, opportunity and technological utopia.
The public was still largely hostile and the Internet has been depicted as a hell’s kitchen full of
- child pron
- nazi propaganda
- bomb building tutorials.
Yet in reality strangers became friends online despite continents, nationalities, skin colors or genders setting them apart in real life.
The Gatekeepers of the Internet
Yet over the years the Web deteriorated continuously in a psychological sense.
spread. While at first people got empowered to read the news directly from the source
In later years the Web became centralized and controlled. Corporations took over.
Today corporate interests run paramount with gatekeepers like
building their own private Internet gated communities.
Borders have been reestablished by Google itself on behalf of restrictive governments and big business. These “walled gardens” are annoying to say the least.
For years I couldn’t watch many YouTube videos because they are “not available in my country”.
My search results show me German sites just because I’m in Germany despite using an English-language browser.
Don’t believe it’s a problem? Some sites like NBA.com even don’t let me visit them anymore.
Instead I get redirected to a local German site that does shallow NBA coverage on some obscure URL: http://www.spox.com/de/sport/ussport/nba/index.html
You Are the Product
The most popular sites on the Web today thrive because you are their product.
They sell your user data and earn revenue off your user generated content.
Indeed Google treats the whole Web as user generated content they can use without asking or paying.
It’s not like we can do much about that. We’re hooked. They are our pushers.
We can’t live without Facebook, Google or Apple it seems no matter how obnoxious they become.
Now here come some upstarters who are making money without exploiting people. There is a new sense of privacy.
These promising companies are doing business according to ethical principles and they simply don’t trick and track people.
Can this new generation of activists, entrepreneurs and geeks save our souls despite the overpowering monopolization of the Web by a few billionaires?
Can the likes of Ecosia (search engine) and Mastodon (social networking site) pave the way of a new better Web?
C.R.E.A.M. – Cynicism Rules Everything Around Me
When looking at the current state of the Web I get reminded of a hip hop song from my youth by the legendary Wu Tang Clan: C.R.E.A.M.
Unlike the many copycats who became popular later Wu Tang did not glorify money!
They reflected on consumerism in their music and just explained the status quo on the streets and beyond.
Cash Rules Everything Around Me wasn’t about how cool money making and spending is!
It was about how average people get affected by money and how it breaks a community.
Today we witness a similar situation on the Web. A global community formerly run by scientists and enthusiasts has deteriorated almost completely.
The Web gets dominated by ruthless and money hungry transnational corporations that don’t even pay taxes.
In fact I couldn’t even watch the Wu Tang video on YouTube here in Germany because of Google.
The YouTube owner refuses to pay local copyright holders a share of their revenue they get from their music.
It’s easy to become cynical in such an environment, even though it’s just virtual.
Mastodon – The Real Decentralized Twitter
So what is it about Mastodon that attracted me in the first place?
It’s like Twitter (before it was X-ed) but sufficiently decentralized.
You can set up your own “instance” of Mastodon like you install WordPress on your own server.
Then you can invite people to join your local or topical community.
Even the SEO community has its favorite Mastodon servers.
One of my most prominent colleagues from the SEO industry – Jon Henshaw – has set up his own on henshaw.social
And of course the instances can interact and federate their news feeds!
You can follow people all over the place – not just your local instance.
So you see that Mastodon is about empowering contributors. They are not just users.
They are not the product either like on corporate social sites.
True, Mastodon is still not fully decentralized in a Web 3 or crypto way.
Yet it’s a great step towards a more open Web again!
Ecosia: The Green Alternative to Google
There I recommended it as one of my favorite alternatives for online search already.
In short: Ecosia is green as in environmentally friendly. How?
Ecosia spends 80% of its profits on reforestation.
Google in contrast is just a money making machine to enrich the two billionaires who own it.
It does not even pay taxes in most countries (only a minimal amount) it operates in.
Ecosia in contrast not only pays a lot of taxes but also spends the rest of it on planting trees to save the planet.
They share their financial statistics on social media. You can see the exact numbers! See below:
The Google owners rather spend money on hiding on their own private islands and such.
Save Your Soul Now!
For the sake of our sanity and overall mental health we need to support such new endeavors like Mastodon and Ecosia.
Indeed Ecosia isn’t really new anymore. They have officially started in 2009!
Yet they are only recently growing prominent enough to get noticed by the mainstream press.
Thus keep your eyes open and share the news about these ethical services not everybody knows yet but should. Why? It’s to save your soul!