Don’t get (too) close, you could get hurt

How to start this entry?

Yeah, it seems I have rejection issues. I seem to not be able to handle rejection. But it seem I also crave closeness; the moment someone is nice to me, I assume that they are nice because they intend to be close. I believe they want to fully understand the actual me.

No, they don’t. They are just (superfluously) nice, that’s all.


So I joined the #Fediverse a few months ago. Not really the big Twitter Migration, but part of the initial, very small Twitter migration.

In any case, one of the very few people I followed on Twitter moved to Fediverse and posted a link to their server. I went there, loved what I found and asked for an account. It seemed like a cozy virtual home – that server. It reminded me a little bit of the BBS-days or the early days of the Internet, especially Usenet, before the influx of AOL users.

The admin was kind enough to give me an account within about 15 minutes. Nice!

After joining someone said I should post an #introduction ‘toot’, which I did. And quite quickly I had many followers and were following many, many people. I still try to keep the ratio of Followers:Followed at abou 3:5, so I follow more.

But I am very picky. I follow a lot of LGBTQ+ accounts, scientists, photographers, neurodivergent people, three celebrities, jewish scholars, etc; in short: I follow a lot of misfits. But I verify  their profiles, their posts intensely before following someone. If they are new, I check their profile and their introduction post. If the profile is empty, I don’t follow – after all, I have responsibility towards my own followers.

I love what they post. I love the witty humor sometimes and I love what the scholars, the scientist, the photographers and all the neurodivergent people post.

I discuss a lot of topics there.


The Fediverse is like a huge party with thousands of party-tables; you know, those tables you stand at with a glass in your hand and have lots of smalltalk.

Then there are the tables where people sit down and start talking – nay: discussing – serious topics.

And then there are the “backrooms”, “getaways”, “separees”, where people gather and show their selfies and discuss their days, even have some intimate talks and chats and … teasing, flirting, …

You can basically go to any table, standing or sitting, join them, listen in, say something, leave, come back. You can also enter the backrooms, getaways and separees, unless they are reserved for “known people only” (followers) or even private (“direct”).

In any case, it is really everthing a public discourse; public chit-chat; all the time. Sometimes, while walking around, you see a beautiful cat, hear wonderful music, see photos of landscapes hanging around. You never know what you may experience…

It is lovely.

What is great is that there is no Maitre d’ telling you what you should definitely see; what you must see; before doing anything else. There is no algorithm serving you “the most important, famous conversation“. Sometimes, some of your friends (followed) throw something in your direction; something they assume could be interesting for you. It hangs there in the air for a minute and is gone – unless you catch it and follow the conversation from where it came.

In any case, it is a lovely place.

Some of the conversations are quite profound, most are (as usual on parties) superficial.

But then, there are those that go into your core.

How to start?

Over time, you get to know people better. Most of your deep conversations end up being with a handful of people only. You don’t really care where they are and it seems there is always someone from that group available (after all, one Fediverse day has 36 hours).

You get closer … ah, yeeh, we are getting there … don’t get (too) close, you could get hurt.

You join a conversation thinking that you can joke around a bit. But then sometimes you realize you under- or overestimated the sense of humor of some people there. Written communication doesn’t carry humor and irony very well.

Which brings me to language: of course, you realize – very quickly – that your own world is limited to your major language(s). Well, d’uh!

But that doesn’t mean that whoever writes in those languages is also very firm in them. Thus: humor and irony are very, very hard to write! That’s why most of posts are full of emojis (or their equivalent on each server).

Anyway, you do experience rejection often enough that you get cautios. You say something funny but then maybe the Brits find it funny but the US don’t; or the non-native speakers don’t get it at all. In worst case, some are even offended.

Since part of my network is LGBTQ+ and the biggest part there trans people (I myself am one), a lot of conversation is about trans rights, positivity and support – even criticism is very supportive. Well, sometimes, it is too much positivity for my taste, but I don’t care. We have enough negativity from outside of the trans community to counter that, so no problems there…

So, you get rejected because of a misunderstanding in tone, wording; you apologize and go on with your life. People are understanding. If you apologize honestly, it is done and gone.

So, you are trans you say?

Well, yes.

I am a non-binary trans person. No, I am not binary. I feel neither as male nor as female. No, it is not a mix of both. It is something completely different. But that’s not the point here.

The point here is that a large part of vocal trans community on Fediverse (vocal = “posts a lot”) are trans women. Beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful trans woman.

But then, when I enter those discussions I feel like an intruder. I act extremely cautiously. I am not a woman so “… how can I enter their conversations and talk with them. Make jokes, tell them how beautiful they are?” – all without coming over as a creep?

I did put enough information in my profile to let everyone know who and what I am. But still, it is difficult not to feel like “… an intruder, an alien, even like an imposter or creep …

Having also the rejection isssue (maybe a topic for another post), any type of criticism or “weird look” makes me feel unwanted, unwelcome, … rejected.

It is fucking awful! But it is what it is…

Don’t get (too) close, you could get hurt

The worst part is when someone from that community gets closer; when we start having deep discussions; when we get closer, any type of (perceived) rejection feels a million times harder.

I had this (scheduled) chat on Sunday evening with someone I thought close enough to have more personal chats (still kind of in the open, but I am talking to them, not shouting anywhere). Let’s call them “A”. Since another person I like a lot (neurodivergent) was interested in the topic we wanted to discuss about (what being non-binary means), I invited them as well (“mentioned them in the initial post”; person “B”). So they joined.

Then, of course, there are others who follow the two (“A” and me) of us closely and probably even have a “Notify” set on our posts. So, we are chatting and a large group of others are just “listening” in.

I made two mistakes during this chat:

  1. I gave a too long answer
  2. I “boosted” some of the responses of “A”

“A” made clear that they can’t concentrate long enough to read long posts. Ok, no problem. My answers then just take a little longer to post because I have to rewrite again and again to fit them into at most 500 characters. It is difficult, but I manage.

The second mistake can be remedied by “unboosting“. Boosting is like “re-post” towards my followers. That is, if I find something interesting, I “boost” so that my followers see it. “A” didn’t want me to boost their responses.

Regardless. In both cases, I felt a bit weird already with the tone of “A”‘s posts asking for those. But since text can’t carry tone, it was just my super-high-alert senses seeing something somewhere where there was nothing. But, hey, it is me, right? They didn’t mean it to come over as upset. They just expressed a wish. To be respected.

And yes, I do understand both and reason/mind says “they are right, nothing wrong with asking these things“; my heart is slightly aching, though, as to “… why am I making these kind of fucking stupid mistakes??? And why does ‘A’ sound so upset?

After a while, “B” also writes a response on top of my responses to “A”, which is absolutely great because “B” is technically also non-binary and could maybe add some additional insight.

After another while “A” says that they don’t know what else to ask (after maybe five or six questions). Am I a bit disappointed? Sad? Weirded out? I don’t know. I mean, I had reserved the evening for this and after a few questions “… they give up…” Did I do something wrong? Did I screw up again?

I try to save the conversation by starting to ask some rhetorical questions to kindle further interest, or to ignite further thinking and questioning. “A” gives a few answers and then … they are GONE!




I am so devastated…

The conversation goes on for a few more exchanges between me and “B” and dies out.

Important to know: the way Mastodon (part of Fediverse) is done is that everybody who was in the conversation at some point gets ongoing notifications unless they are explicitly taken out of conversation in the following posts.

Then, a while later, “B” and I have a few more exchanges on that conversation… And I see a post by “A”, not in this conversation, but posted publicly (I am paraphrasing here): “It’s not even possible to get out of a conversation on Mastodon, even if you want!”


Well, yeah, it seems “A” was really annoyed now. And yes, it WAS MY FAULT! I AGAIN I SCREWED UP EVERYTHING (#FragMyBrain).

And I?

And I? I was completely, utterly devastated. I thought we were friends. I thought we had something together. I thought we shared some common .. I dunno. Maybe, I even thought that there was some kind of (platonic!) love… I thought that if you love and respect someone you don’t … just leave (and criticize indirectly)!

I couldn’t sleep. My Apple watch recording my sleep got completely confused. The data was all over the place. I know I didn’t sleep well. But I dreamed horrible dreams, mixed with reality and whatnot …

I woke up wasted, utterly wasted. I worked, I did a good job. But that’s because I know  how to function if I have to. But after finishing work, I crashed. I ate little, and completely crashed.

Today I am better and yes, I learned. I learn fast! I learn sustainably. When I learn a lesson, I usually don’t forget it so easily. It has its benefits, but it also causes many problems. Let’s see what this learning will bring.

Don’t get close at all, you will get hurt or even burned!

Well, yes, it all is my fault: I hadn’t used Social Media at all because I thought of it as “Anti-Social Media”. I craved the wonderful, warm, cozy times of BBS and Usenet (before AOL) for online interaction.

I though I had found it here on Fediverse.

The error was on my side: I had mistaken technology for culture. I had thought that people on a federated system had the same culture as we had that in a BBS or on Usenet (how naive, right?).

During those days we even met face to face from time to time. Especially BBS… we really met in person at least once a year or so. I had met a lot of lovely people. But it was not the BBS that created that culture. BBS was the technology.

But technology is just a tool. Culture is made by people using those tools.

I can’t say that Fediverse-culture is bad or good or better or worse than what we used to have on BBS and Usenet (before AOL). It is different. And yes, I have to learn to live with a different culture.

(Btw: it has nothing to do with generational issues. My network on Fediverse is very diverse age-wise, from 18 – 70+, there are people from all age groups, genders, backgrounds).

But yes, the culture on Fediverse is different. The culture nowadays is different.

My learning is: unless you met a person face to face or at the least talked to them on a voice- or preferably video-call, don’t get too close. You will get hurt or even burned.


Yes, I will continue using the lovely Fediverse. I will continue having interactions and continue learning new things from some of the most fantastic people I have met online. I have already learned so much about BIPOC, Neurodivergent People, about LGBTIQA+people, about places on this planet I could not have imagined.

And I will continue to maybe also teach a few things to others.

But: most – if not all – my conversations will be superfluous – unless I know that person personally and have met that person either via voice, video, or – preferably – face to face!

There, another thing I learned…

You live and you learn.


*: Next day, they explained that the conversation went into a direction they were not interested in anymore and that’s why they left. Which is fair enough, I guess…