Steampunk Is Too Reliant on Facebook

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!

4 comments

  1. There’s really only one change which needs to be made and that is to change humans so they no longer place a primary value on convenience.
    That is primarily what FB offers, convenience, ‘everyone and everything is here, you need not apply effort to going other places’.

    1. Exactly right. And this convenience comes at great cost.

      It stifles creativity and innovation. We used to have so many interesting and different places: blogs, message boards, LiveJournals. My impression is that people used to create more content, not just consume it, and were more open-minded. Now there’s only Facebook, where people can find a perfect niche that matches their worldviews and interests, and a lot of it is sharing what other people have created.

      Owners don’t really have control over their communities on Facebook. Somebody can lodge a complaint anonymously, a low-paid Facebook reviewer in another country reads it and can act on it by closing your group or page. Good luck trying to get it reopened.

      And, of course, there’s the whole privacy and Facebook collecting your data aspect.

  2. MEWE rejected my browser, confirmed my email, rejected my browser again, invited me to explore MEWE, and rejected my browser a third time. So I rejected MEWE and probably saved myself a lot of hassle!

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