Jake, I'd say that Mastodon (on the right instance) is very much so like Twitter circa 2009-2011 (a lot of engagement, no algorithms, no ads, etc). But for me, I can't use Masto because I get caught up in the vanity/boredom/expectancy of interaction type of mindset. Twitter ruined me, in a way. Haha.
It's for the better, because now I don't deal with any of it. Masto def works for some, though. And that is good.