a rickety bridge of impossible crossing

the [elephant noise] discourse

One of the more tedious ongoing debates in the Mastodon corner of the fediverse is whether posts should be called "toots" or not. If you listen to some of the more popular mastodon accounts, the dividing line is clear: you're either an oldschool Mastodon gatekeeper who would die in the defense of "toots", or you're one of these twitter migrants trying to butt into a culture they don't understand and change a long-standing beloved tradition with their corporate-approved real-name identities, who take social media very seriously and hate fun. This old flame war was recently re-ignited because, of the many poorly received changes in Mastodon 4.0, the default nomenclature for the posting button was changed from "Toot!" to "Publish!", presumably to present a more professional face to the huge influx of twitter migrants in recent months. Admins everywhere are discovering this change and tinkering with the CSS to change the button back, which I approve of. They should totally customize their instances to suit the sensibilities of their residents. I would go even further and migrate the instance to the glitch-soc or hometown fork, because mainline Mastodon is only getting worse.

But, and this won't make me popular, I've been on Mastodon since 2016 and I never liked "toot". For most of those years, I was on cybre.space, an instance that renamed the button from "toot" to "ping". Did this factor into my decision to sign up there? A little bit. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't frothing at the mouth to get it changed. "Toot" doesn't compel me to retire to my fainting couch. But I, personally, would rather use a different term.

One argument I hear a lot is "oh yeah, like tweet is so serious and professional, get over yourself." But for me, it's not about being serious. I think there's a pretty clear distinction between "whimsical" and "scatalogical". I like the former but I don't like the latter. If the old word was "boing" or "honk" or "moo" or "bleat" or just about any silly onomatopoeia or animal noise, I'd have no problem with it. But I don't like poop jokes and fart jokes. I find them boring and off-putting. Same for any gross-out humor based on bodily functions. It's never been my thing, not even when I was a kid. I don't wanna think about gross body stuff.

I realize that English isn't Gargron's first language, and he probably didn't realize the scatalogical implications when he chose the word; it's just the noise an elephant makes. But that's clearly not why the diehard "toot" defenders are logging on. They're crushing the world into a binary in which you either like fart jokes or hate fun. It kinda sucks to be put into that box. I love fun!

All that said, I don't think changing the button to "Publish!" was the right call either. I think that's an overcorrection, a step too far towards the "social media is super srs business" camp. The nice neutral default should be "post", and instance admins should have an option in the control panel to change the word to whatever they want without having to tinker in the code. Or heck, let individual accounts have the option to change it in their client. Why not? I changed the text in my blog footer from "made with bear" to "built with bear", because I like alliteration, and the sky didn't come crashing down. Web services can let their residents have a little custom CSS, as a treat.

Oh well 🤷‍♀️🏳 I give. I'm clearly on the losing side of this battle, time to do what I always do: mute the word in my home timeline and wait for the meta to die down. And post about it in my blog, where I can't accidentally start or contribute to a wave of discourse. Thank goodness for cozy options 🦝