Become illegible

One thing I appreciate about Mastodon (and the Fediverse) is the desire among some users to not be legible. Some users don’t want to be seen, understood, or to have any “reach”. There’s a desire to not be visible, to not be widely understood, and to basically be baffling to outsiders.

I’m taking this idea of legibility from James C. Scott’s book Seeing Like a State. I’ve seen some Mastodonians explicitly reference Scott’s book. Others don’t refer to Scott directly, but are often speaking about the same thing.

There are numerous strategies for being less legible: having a private account, not posting to the public timelines, not threading posts that would make much more sense threaded, not using a real name, deliberately not explaining references, not providing context, sub-tooting, and so on. This is all behavior that is common to inward-looking groups elsewhere on the internet, but only on Mastodon have I seen illegibility as being the explicit, stated goal. It is a decidedly interesting and compelling goal, and I humbly submit it here for your consideration.

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