How To Leave Social Media join a truly social network

Like being in contact with friends - but hate social media's impact on the world? Come and join the world of independent, open source, decentralised and anti-corporate digital socialising!

Duckduckgo Search engine that does not track you. Especially good for getting balanced search results: no algorithm means it's not tailored to you, and that can be a good thing if you want to avoid an "information bubble" that only reinforces your worldview.
Dreamwidth Community-blogging site, similar to Livejournal - with excellent privacy tools making it easy to friends-lock posts and control your experience. There's a DW Guide for Tumblr Users series here.
Dreamwidth is long-established, and was created parallel to livejournal's heyday. I'm a big fan; although it is quiet, it is easy to make strong connections - because everyone there has made that commitment to being on "neighbourly" social media.
Spacehey Myspace-like profile site
Retroshare Desktop chat program - combining file-sharing, irc-style-chat, channels and communities. Not intuitive for beginners, you need to understand the tech - which is poorly documented.
Manyverse Works offline and asynchronously, with your data always staying on your own phone. Make or join mini-social networks, as well as being invited to larger ones. Facebook-like.
Nitter For browsing Twitter with, but with Javascript blocked - handy for privacy and security, as well as just checking twitter stripped of its addictive and intrusive aspects.
Matrix Chat client, somewhat like irc, favoured by some activist groups and tech people. Probably easier to use than it looks, it's just documented in such a way to appeal to tech people rather than laymen

The Fediverse

The Fediverse is a kind of interconnected social media platform, but which is not centrally owned by a company. It has a lot of different forms, all of which have indieweb values.

Mastodon Twitter-ish. A good beginner's guide is here. There is a Yesterweb instance at social.yesterweb.
Mastodon is known to be something of a wild west in terms of objectionable content, because moderation is done by individuals who run the servers - consequently, standards can vary (esp if you look at the "Federated" tab, which pulls in posts from other people's servers). Block frequently and move instances if yours isn't a fit.
Bookwyrm Track your reading in a social way. Replacement for Goodreads, which is now amazon-owned.
Pixelfed Instagram-like
PeerTube Youtube-like
Friendica Facebook-like
Lemmy Reddit-like
Write-Freely Blogger-like

Make a website!

Making your own static site gives you more control over the "atmosphere" and features of your site than a 3rd party platform. It's also easier to export & backup your work, to move it to a new website at need.

Neocities Simple, friendly community site encouraging the revival of geocities-era creativity - with many beautiful, experimental, thought-provoking and practical websites being made every day. Comes with simple social features, to follow and comment on other people's sites. Many applications: writing articles, personal blogging, sharing your art, running a business, or web-design-as-art. And very simple for beginners, in contrast to - say - hosting your own server, which is more advanced. Community/movement/wiki encouraging people to make their own sites. More of a "professional" mood to neocities, it shows you how to set up a server and keep your work connected to social media. independent web hosting for hobbyists. Slightly steeper learning curve than neocities, but with cool features to quickly set up a forum, gallery, guestbook etc.

The Old Ways

Feed Readers Feed readers are like a dashboard which shows content from different blogs and websites that you have chosen. So, you could include your favourite cooking blog and the New York Times, for example. Some feed readers can be accessed as both a website and a mobile app; the most recent one I used was Feedly, but its been a while. Feed readers lack attention-grabbing features, and can be read as a daily digest; you can also download articles to your phone to read when in no-signal areas. I found reading my selected blogs on Feedly while on the bus considerably more wholesome than skimming social media.

Good potential alternative to certain uses of Reddit, Twitter, Tumblr, where the goal is to "have fun reading interesting things". Feedly has a mobile app - perfect for reading on the bus-stop.
Forums Old but true technology; the key is finding an active one related to your interests, but like other outsider-web endeavours, forums benefit from human moderation and curation, and motivated close-knit communities
Email Another "old technology that still works fine - indeed, perfectly - for getting in touch with people". Sending longform letters to friends, sharing baby photos with your whole family, making little newsletters for your followers, and so on. Protonmail is a secure, alternative email provider in case you wish to avoid google products.
A paper journal relearn the lost skill of processing your thoughts and ideas in private
Ebook reader, mp3 player, dumbphone Single-use tech can preserve the benefits digital offers, but without being so immediately tied to its problems. An ebook reader satisfies my urge to hold a smartphone and browse, but in a way that's significantly more nourishing, and less likely to draw me into discourse. Single-use mp3 players are still out there, perfect for a hike or meditation session without the itch to check your notifications. Dumbphones just do texts and calls, but I've found they're so non-addictive that I struggle to remember to charge them; they also cause problems if you have a social circle which inexplicably would rather whatsapp than text.
Telnet Proper retro tech, going all the way back to the 60s: text based instant-messaging and emailing. Go to r/MUD for gaming, and try LambdaMOO as an example of a social community. Tools like Evennia can be used to make and run your own. Telnet is fun and extremely satisfying to use, in a sort of "I've created a tunnel to the ancient internet" way; and additionally, still popular in the partially-sighted/blind community (esp for gaming). When we talk about how "convenient" social media is, and how everyone is already there - convenient for whom? And who have we not noticed is missing?


Moving to a new kind of internet can take some adjusting: new ways of thinking and being For the tech-confident, you can take on the role of community-maker and create your own social media space!
POSSE aka "publish on your own site, syndicate elsewhere". If you're not fully ready to leave social media, why not try putting your content on your own site, and merely using yr other social medias to link people back to it.
No social media apps on your phone Most of social media's "stickiest" and addictive properties are optimised for mobile users; using social media on the desktop tends to be easier on your mental health. A possible intermediate step, for people who do not want to give up mainstream social media entirely, is to use it only on a desktop or laptop (if you have one available) but never on your phone.

Things to be aware of: these sites are quite a lot quieter than other social medias, and this is a good thing. There's less advertising and clout-chasing, and less alienation of being lost in a vast, digital emptiness. It can help to go to them with a small-knit group of friends, or go prepared to make friends. Paradoxically, outsider-web social media can be considerably more social than regular social media!

You also need to take a bit more responsibility: content will not be served to you, and you'll probably have to be a bit more consciously engaged in creating there and learning the ettiquette of a community. Again - this is a good thing, discouraging the "passive grazing" and drive-by-hostility of the big social medias, and bringing you into contact with people who are very intentional about their digital relationships.

The popularity of Discord shows there is a taste for these more private, curated, human-moderated communities. But Discord is on the borderline for being a community-controlled platform, and is imperfect at some things a community needs. It's time to think bigger!