It was the 'toot' that was heard halfway around the world - no, really.

Last Friday night I was, as usual, messing with my phone when I should have been doing something more productive, and noticed that some people I follow on social media were discussing a platform called Mastodon.

Worried about the Elon Musk takeover of 'the bird app', they were looking for a new base that could fulfil the same purpose of being a place to share information, ask questions and, quite often, crack in-jokes that would only make sense to other similarly addicted souls.

Determined I would not become addicted to another platform, I nevertheless headed to Mastodon myself, deciding that I might as well lay claim to the Sinéad Crowley name over there and then - obviously - never look at it again.

It was not, on first glance, a particularly welcoming space.

First, you have to choose a server, and then wait for an email to confirm you had done that, and then confirm that yourself and... anyway.

The short version is that Mastodon, unlike Twitter, has lots of individual servers rather than one big one, so it looks like you have to decide, straight away, who you mostly want to hang around with.

It’s not actually as narrow as that however, as users can also communicate with people on other servers, something that has been explained to me as being like a person with a Gmail address emailing one with a Yahoo address.

I selected the Irish server, which has a picture of President Michael D Higgins on it, and had a quick look around.

That first evening on Mastodon was a bit like going from primary school into secondary, where you cope with feelings of intimidation by clinging desperately to familiar faces from before. So, I followed as many people as I could recognise from my original twitter account and many of them followed me back.

One of those I recognised was @Ciaraioch - a very funny, talented and smart artist who I’ve been following on Twitter for some time. I love her sharp tweets, and when I saw her Mastodon post (which are known as ‘toots’) about the complexity of the platform it really resonated.

Without giving it much thought, I screen grabbed it and tweeted it with a comment from my own twitter account.

Then things went bananas.

Within seconds of my posting it, it began to be retweeted. After a half hour, these went into the hundreds, before the likes and retweets began to tick over like the counter on a bike during a particularly difficult spinning session. It went, quite simply, wild.

At first I thought about deleting it - for fear it would look like I was trying to pass off her material as my own, which I certainly wasn’t - but there was no way of stuffing the genie back in at that stage. At the moment, it has rendered my twitter practically unusable because of the number of notifications that pop up every time I open the app.

It has been quoted by users all over the world and on international media outlets as they too try to explain what Mastodon is and what it does.

So, what does this mean?

Firstly, it shows that the original gag was very funny and if you are not following @Ciaraioch on some sort of platform then you absolutely should.

But secondly it shows how desperate many social media users are for change. Twitter has become a huge part of users’ lives, for everything from news to cultural banter to practical recommendations.

The Elon Musk takeover has caused huge disquiet, but rather than just deleting their account people are seeking somewhere that will provide a similar buzz.

It's not just about fun either.

Where my own area - the arts - are concerned for example, some use it to promote gigs, share good reviews or even snippets of new material.

It’s too early to say if Mastodon will become 'the new Twitter'.

I've had a good look around - even though I swore I wouldn’t get addicted - and at the moment it seems like a similar but clunkier version of Twitter. You can reply to people and repost their 'toots’ but it takes physically longer to load pages.

That could all be teething problems though.

If you are heading over, the server is probably where you’ll find most familiar faces.

To return to the secondary school analogy however, once you’ve settled in it would probably be best to seek out a few new people too and create a new online life, rather than trying to recreate the old.

But it’s very early days.

My original plan last weekend was to slowly wean myself off Twitter and use Mastodon, or something else, or even (gasp) nothing, for a while.

Watching that tweet do crazy numbers kept me on what some refer to as ‘the hell site’ for a little longer, and I haven’t yet warmed to Mastodon in the same way.

What is clear however is that since Elon Musk bought Twitter, huge numbers of users are trying to get off the site and are looking for an alternative.

And surely, that can’t be what its buyer had in mind.