The #MedMastodon Migration
The decentralized social media site is hardly mammoth in size, but are Twitter’s denizens flocking there when faced with extinction?
Troubles abound for Twitter. From controversial ban reversals and massive staffing shifts to its new pay-to-imitate blue check service, even regular users of the popular social media platform may find themselves wishing to leave the Internet’s favorite soapbox once and for all.
Over the years, #PathTwitter has slowly created a space for pathologists, lab professionals, and students to share and discuss. Friendships have formed; professional relationships have blossomed; informal education has progressed by leaps and bounds. But, in the face of Twitter’s downfall, what realistic alternative is there? Would you try out the Trump-fashioned Truth Social, which has its own fair share of controversies, experiment with the self-described “global free speech app” Parler, or make the leap to one of the numerous new platforms arising like mushrooms to secure their segment of Twitter’s broad user base?
Many medical professionals with movement on their minds are eyeing up Mastodon – and some have already jumped ship. In fact, even The Pathologist now has its own Mastodon account! We wanted to know how people feel about these changes, so we asked some new Mastodon converts for their thoughts.
Casey P. Schukow
I am not fully transitioning to Mastodon at this time, although pathology Twitter users’ choices to outright leave the platform for another (namely Mastodon) is valid given the recent changes in leadership. (I am not leaving PathTwitter; it means too much to me!) I decided to join Mastodon – specifically MedMastodon – to see what it was about, what it has to offer, and more-or-less to explore it (especially as it’s a platform I am new to and it may have positive potential for pathologists, trainees, and pathology-interested medical students moving forward in this era of Twitter uncertainty).
PathTwitter appears to be and has been a safe, virtual space. It’s hard for me to believe that it will completely “implode” as the loosening of free speech and content moderation takes place across all of Twitter. Ultimately, my hope is that PathTwitter (and now PathMastodon) somehow flourish together and that pathologists, trainees, and pathology-interested medical students find ways to connect, collaborate, and network across both platforms (and not just within the same specialty, but with others across different medical professions).
Syed T. Hoda
I was one of the first, if not the first, #PathTwitter user who signed up for Mastodon when word started floating around. Having been on social media in some form or another since the late 1990s, I can feel when a platform is about to have mass departure, and Twitter is undergoing a slow death now.
Many social media sites have lost mass users in the past and none of them retained their charm afterward. This debacle has all of the hallmarks of a fallout: new ownership (see MySpace collapsing after Fox bought it); mass exodus on all sides; worries about safety and privacy; technological challenges; and inability to handle its user base.
More importantly, people should be elastic and ready for change. As a pathologist with a relatively large following (over 18,000 followers) that includes pathologists, other specialty healthcare workers, artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, and thinkers, I am not attached to my following or my status as a well-known tweeter. I am attached to my self-expression and the expression of others I enjoy hearing from. Currently, I am posting similar content on both platforms and, surprisingly, Mastodon is full of energy and vigor. I find myself splitting my time between both platforms evenly – but I am more drawn to Mastodon, if I’m honest. Pathologists have to be leaders in medical culture, change, and adaptability – not just followers once everyone else has moved. Sign up for Mastodon and try it out for yourself.
I think that, for any pathologist with a conscience, it’s no longer tenable to post on Twitter. The good news is that Mastodon is a far better alternative – and it’s already thriving. For those yet to join, med-mastodon.com or aus.social are great neighborhoods, but it doesn’t matter which server you sign into on Mastodon – you can find and follow anyone or any hashtag (see #pathology and #PathMastodon for a start) across the entire “fediverse.” For iPhone users, I highly recommend using either a web browser or the Metatext app for the time being.
I’m definitely not convinced that this is the end for #PathTwitter. In my experience, the pathology community is its own microcosm, largely devoid of the drama and toxicity that is commonplace on other parts of Twitter.
However, I don’t think we’re limited to Twitter. I've been using Kiko for some time and I post educational videos on my YouTube channel. I also recently joined Instagram and Facebook. I signed up for Mastodon because it looked like an interesting new platform to connect and share information with others in the medical community. It’s a smaller group, but it’s been a good experience so far. I’m not sure what the future holds for the pathology community but, for now, I’ll continue to be involved on both Twitter and Mastodon.
I am hopeful that #PathTwitter not only survives, but continues to thrive. Our family here is strong. In the event that #PathTwitter dissolves, Mastodon (or #Pathodon) is an excellent alternative in that the user interface is similar to Twitter and easy to use. A handful of us have already started accounts on Mastodon. Regardless of the platform, our community is committed to lifelong learning.
Are you on Mastodon? Connect with us at @[email protected]
Have you left Twitter for good – or are you still hedging your bets with Mastodon and other platforms? Let us know your thoughts on either platform or at [email protected]!
Interested in how disease interacts with our world. Writing stories covering subjects like politics, society, and climate change.