Reddit is bad, and you should feel bad
"Cecil, what is this mess?" I asked, mouth agape.
Cecil, my dear friend from the IT department, was always talking about Reddit, the link-sharing website. Four years ago he discovered it, and would go on and on about “this cool thing I found on reddit” and post funny cat pictures he found to the office pinboard. But as the years wore on he began to complain more and more about “reposts” and over used jokes, or “memes” as he called them. He also wouldn’t stop complaining about how annoying the “atheism” subreddit was.
I always assumed Cecil was an atheist based on his bumper-sticker of a Darwin fish eating a “Jesus” peace fish. But you never know.
"Cecil" I asked "I check the browser logs, and you spend 90% of the workday on reddit, but you complain about it so much"
"I know" He said "But, you must see it for yourself"
He wheeled me back to his workstation and loaded the site up. It’s a white background, and most of the text are links. Next to each link are arrows “up and downvotes” Cecil called them. When you submitted a link users on the site can up or downvote your post, and the site orders the links based on newer ones with the highest ratio of “upvotes”. I was amused.
"So, then there should just be good stuff all the time on the front page, right?" I asked
"Yes, but then people were just posting images with text on them, like an inspirational quote next to an Important Atheist, or an Advice Animal image macro, or something else, and pretty soon they made it so you could submit links to sub-reddits, or subsites of the main reddit site"
"Cecil" I asked "Why are these poorly drawn comics so popular? and why do they use the same faces in each one? are they made by the same person?"
"Those are ‘rage comics’ " he said, sighing "they’re used to express daily annoyances and other things"
"They’re not very funny, and they’re not much to look at, so why are they so popular?" I asked
"I DON’T FUCKING KNOW OKAY?" He yelled, we continued to click through the other subreddits. Each one would be filled with rage-comics, inane "self" posts (or discussion posts) and the comments were filled with women-hating and racist comments.
"Reddit used to be the coolest person on the chess team, you know? He’d be cool and interesting, kind of geeky, but not too bad. And pretty soon as the site got popular, he went from the coolest to the uncoolest person on the chess team. You know the guy, smelly, doesn’t bathe, watches Anime all the time, kinda tubby, a bit sad."
"But then, Reddit became the worst guy out of all the chess teams in the region, the guy that they don’t invite to the after-regional-chess-tournament Chipotle binge. The rest of the chess teams just sit there, in the Chipotle, to talk about how AWFUL this guy is"
"And THEN" Cecil continued "Reddit became the guy that the chess teams talk about at nationals, sure, other teams from other regions will try to top him, but this guy is worse than them all. He is the worst person on the chess team, but extrapolated to an order of magnitude worse, someone who makes the news in a few years for suffocating under his collection of Real Dolls"
"Oh, my" I said, agast "What happened?"
"The site got popular, accounts can be created in seconds, users are virtually anonymous, and there’s very little moderation outside of the up and down arrows."
As a result, Cecil said, things just went downhill.
"Now it’s a continuous circlejerk of image memes, casual racism, and other unpleasantries."
"So" I asked "What’s the draw?"
He said nothing and wheeled around in his chair, scrolling through the links and clicking on them. I backed out of his cubicle and went back to my desk, where I spent the afternoon reading Ask Metafilter questions.