Facebook is a Treadmill, Scuttlebutt is a Bridge

This is an ongoing list of comparisons and observations which I've scribbled on various scraps of paper and text docs since I deleted my Facebook account permanently a few months ago (after not actually logging into it for three years) and started exploring the Scuttleverse. They're based upon my experiences so far as a non-dev human seeking meaningful, healthy ways to connect online which promote digital literacy & autonomy over tech ignorance & dependency.

I've decided to use Facebook in particular as a point of comparison to Scuttlebutt here because it's the currently-dominant 'social media' platform which I find to be the most consequential, and that I've spent the most significant amount of time using. It also remains a space where most of the people I know still live. That being said, many of these metaphors would apply to other major platforms as well.

So, what is Scuttlebutt? And for that matter, what is Facebook?

Hermies typing

Consider what follows to be a public brainstorm. At some point, I plan to write something more longform about these two digital entities, but for now here is my attempt to lay out some thoughts on how they compare in my experience.

I also highly recommend reading this fantastic modular essay by Zach!


‣ The space you inhabit on Facebook is called “Facebook”. ‣ The realm you visit through Scuttlebutt is called “The Scuttleverse”.


‣ Facebook users are called “users”. ‣ Scuttlebutt users are called “butts”.


‣ Scuttlebutt's logo is a cartoon hermit crab. ‣ Facebook's logo is the letter “f” in a square.


‣ Scuttlebutt has an inherent sense of humor and playfulness. ‣ Facebook does not.


‣ Scuttlebutt is used with intention. ‣ Facebook is used with compulsion.


‣ Facebook tethers you to The Cloud©. ‣ Scuttlebutt roots you in the ground.


‣ Scuttlebutt works offline, enabling you to disconnect from the Internet without becoming disconnected from friends. ‣ Facebook keeps you online, tying your social life to the strength of your Internet connection.


‣ Facebook is a lawn. ‣ The Scuttleverse is a habitat.


‣ Facebook is an unending grid of tract housing. ‣ The Scuttleverse is a diverse network of dispersed villages.


‣ Facebook is a system which cultivates dependency. ‣ The Scuttleverse is an ecosystem which fosters resilience.


‣ Scuttlebutt is a tool you are always learning to use more effectively. ‣ Facebook is a tool which is always learning to use you more profitably.


‣ Facebook stalks you online, constantly beckoning you to return. ‣ Scuttlebutt respects your boundaries, letting you come & go freely.


‣ Scuttlebutt is an open canvas which lets you decide what you want. ‣ Facebook is a product which tells you what you want.


‣ Facebook requires everyone to be in the same loud environment all of the time regardless of what they would prefer. ‣ Scuttlebutt enables people to find and create environments which meet diverse preferences and needs.


‣ Scuttlebutt empowers butts to become learners, teachers, & builders. ‣ Facebook dissects & manipulates users as quantified consumers.


‣ In the Scuttleverse, friendly volunteer mechanics help you understand what's going on under the hood of your car. ‣ On Facebook, the hood of your car is locked and you call a corporate customer service hotline when you need help.


‣ Facebook is based upon metrics & graphs of 'user engagement'. ‣ Scuttlebutt is based upon the diversity, messiness, & ambiguity of natural human interaction.


‣ Scuttlebutt started as a tool for staying connected with people remotely without sacrificing your privacy or autonomy. ‣ Facebook started as a 'hot or not' rating website for college kids which used people's photos without their permission.


‣ When new people join Facebook, they are greeted by a personified interface generated from a data center facility somewhere. ‣ When new people join Scuttlebutt, they are greeted by humans whose messages are delivered via personal volunteer computing.


‣ Scuttlebutt is oriented around empowering people and communities for the greater good of humanity. ‣ Facebook is oriented around monopolizing your attention and social connections for the sake of profit & control.


‣ Facebook is a casino mall with tabloid kiosks & an indoor graveyard, attached to a surveillance corporation which owns & controls it all. ‣ Scuttlebutt is a co-op café with a zine library & a volunteer post office, attached to a shared garden which everyone owns & tends.


‣ Facebook is a fast food restaurant. ‣ The Scuttleverse is a community kitchen.


‣ Facebook is a mound of ads, newspapers, and mail piled at your door by a bot that rings your doorbell over & over. ‣ Scuttlebutt is a neighborhood mailbox that you walk to when you actually have the energy and desire.


‣ Facebook has over 2.6 billion users and cares because its business model converts user information into profit. ‣ Scuttlebutt doesn't care how many butts it has because there are no incentives to monitor and quantify people.


‣ Facebook regurgitates 'Web 2.0' norms endlessly. ‣ Scuttlebutt prompts you to reimagine 'social networking' entirely.


‣ About Scuttlebutt's founder: “A handsome ocean wanderer with wonderfully comic pink feet.”

‣ About Facebook's [co-]founder: “I'm trying to make the world a more open place.”


‣ An excerpt from Facebook's genesis:

I’m a little intoxicated, not gonna lie. So what if it’s not even 10 p.m. and it’s a Tuesday night? What? The Kirkland [dorm] facebook is open on my desktop and some of these people have pretty horrendous facebook pics. I almost want to put some of these faces next to pictures of farm animals and have people vote on which is more attractive.

‣ An excerpt from Scuttlebutt's genesis:

I wanted an open platform that anyone could build things on (as twitter was originally pitched, but has closed off, they try to monetize etc). Also, we couldn't realistically plan to just sit down and create an app that everyone wants to use, we need many experiments so that one can succeed, therefore we need an decentralized application platform more than we need any given decentralized application.


Hermies with star Scuttlebutt id: @7x+lsDrIbLkiub2LVN3YHMYZOGY1ZvaJBcxax9qD854=.ed25519

Last updated: May 22nd