Stephen Beale asks if steampunk hasn’t become too reliant on Facebook:
As much as steampunk fans depend on Facebook to connect with one another, it’s fair to say that many of us have a love-hate relationship with the platform. Much of this relates to concerns about data privacy as well as Facebook’s alleged role in exacerbating a range of social ills, including political polarization and the spread of misinformation about COVID-19.
I agree. I quit Facebook when the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. Never Was doesn’t have a Facebook presence. (The Facebook page of our predecessor, The Gatehouse, still exists, because Facebook refuses to delete or rename it.) It’s a challenge. It’s harder to keep in touch with people. We still receive many visitors from Facebook when users share one of our stories there. We’re probably missing out on readers because we don’t promote our content on Facebook ourselves.
Beale points out Facebook is the go-to venue to socialize with fellow steampunk fans. The same is true for dieselpunks. Facebook is the main online presence many steampunk creators, including artists, authors and musicians, have. Some steampunk events promote themselves almost exclusively on Facebook.
There are alternatives. Beale suggests MeWe and CosMos. I have called for a return to message-board communities; they allow anonymity, they organize discussions more intuitively and — at least in the past — they fostered a real sense of community. But I’m afraid our own, the Never Was Lounge, has not been a roaring success and The Steampunk Forum at Brass Goggles isn’t what it used to be either. The demise of Dieselpunks.org has left that community without a non-Facebook home as well.
I worry that, so long as millions of users are willing to put up with Facebook and enable its wrongdoing, none of these alternatives will take off.
What can we do? Please let us know in the comments!