Essay - Is This Reddit?


A common question that pervades the minds of young dissidents in the current epoch of the internet. "Is this reddit?"

The question is often asked in regards to some new content distributed for public consumption by various media outlets, be that youtube, Netflix, disney et al, and sometimes twitter, tiktok, and appropriately enough, reddit. The common kneejerk reaction is to condemn the content as being reddit, such that only the blind and voracious masses could possibly find any enjoyment in, and many times it's correct. There's a problem here though, and it lies within the question from the outset. To answer the question of whether something is reddit, we have to begin with the question "what is reddit". What is the essence of reddit and what quality must something have in order to be circumscribed by it? The answer, as I will show shortly, is a paradox.

To begin our investigation into the essence of being reddit, the best place to start is to uncover the properities of the subject itself. According to wikipedia "Reddit (/ˈrɛdɪt/, stylized as reddit) is an American social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website. Registered members submit content to the site such as links, text posts, images, and videos, which are then voted up or down by other members. Posts are organized by subject into user-created boards called "communities" or "subreddits", which cover a variety of topics such as news, politics, religion, science, movies, video games, music, books, sports, fitness, cooking, pets, and image-sharing. Submissions with more upvotes appear towards the top of their subreddit and, if they receive enough upvotes, ultimately on the site's front page. Although there are strict rules prohibiting harassment, it still occurs, and Reddit administrators moderate the communities and close or restrict them on occasion. Moderation is also conducted by community-specific moderators, who are not considered Reddit employees."

Let's break this down some. In general this sounds like a classic web forum. This would be an accurate statement of one of its qualities, but it's differentiated in two ways.

Aggregation -- This isn't a normal forum that used to be found throughout the web. Such forums, legends say, were very niche oriented. You had video games forums, generally, such as GameFAQs, but then you might have a 100% glitchless Super Mario 64 speedrunning forum, that only allowed content title-related. Reddit, however, has as its primary landing page the "HOT, EVERYWHERE" page, which takes posts from many of the most popular sub-reddits (an inversion of the classic web forum within an aggregator) that are classified as "hot", and putting them all in one place. At one time I think they described themselves as "the front page of the internet", a callback to the relatively archaic newspaper, though not very functionally dissimilar.

Content Rating, and Discussion -- Discussion and Rating were not uncommon in classic web forums either, however, as far as I'm aware posts were usually sorted by newest first, with maybe a couple pinned pages explaining rules or heading off any common or redundant questions. Discussion was also sorted in this fashion, with the newest comments and replies being put closest to the head of the page, below the OP of course. Reddit, on the other hand, sorts both posts AND comments by "hottest" or "most popular" first, unless the reader changes that preference themselves. The structure of discussion is different as well. In classic forums, the posts were sorted by newest or oldest first, and to follow the discussion you had to read through each comment in order, and the replies to one comment might be burried three pages back, with no indication from the original post that a reply was ever made (except maybe a notification in the commenters inbox). The discussion structure of reddit is more like a tree. A comment on the OP may be made and any reply to that comment will be placed directly underneath that comment slightly indented, these replies are also sorted by "hottest"

So we may now distinguish the unique qualites of reddit as different than a normal forum. It's a website that hosts user-posted content from all over the web that is sorted, from OP to Thread, by "hottest". But hold on. We've forgotten one of the most crucial, and functionally central aspects of Reddit. The upvote. I've related to you now how all posts, comments, and threads, are sorted by hottest first. What does it mean to be hot? There are three variables that go into the hottness equation. How many upvotes it has accrued (after you subtract the downvotes), the number of comments made, and how quickly those two numbers have gone up in a given amount of time. The upvote is probably the biggest contributor to the nature of what reddit has become. To upvote is to vote that something be moved "up" the current list of posts considered active on the website. What induces a person to respond this way? In short, approval.

For something to be hot on reddit it has to be approved of by thousands of people in the span of maybe a day. I have just browsed the front page of reddit and the hottest post is less than 6 hours old. The oldest post I could find was a 17 hour-old thread in the cryptocurrency subreddit asking for people's most unpopular opinions. By browsing the front page of reddit you can get a pretty solid grasp of what most users of the website approve of. Celebrities being normal people, strange gadget glitches, funny comics, news or memes about the latest movie, and neo-liberal politics.

So there's your answer. For something to "be reddit", it has to be something which reddit would aggregately approve of. But here also lies the paradox. BY ASKING IF SOMETHING IS REDDIT, YOU ARE SUBMITTING YOURSELF TO A SIMILAR BEAST. "Is this reddit?" might as well be posting on reddissident and waiting for upvotes from all your favorite posters. By declaring something as reddit, and getting 300 likes, you have generated a microchosm of reddit in a twitter thread. So asking if something is reddit, is itself a recreation of reddit, what's a man to do? The primary thing, if you're particularly reddit, is to STOP SEEKING APPROVAL. Approval is the mindkiller, it subjects all thought to the whim of the mob, gutting a man of his mind. There is exactly one person whose approval you seek, and that is the approval of our Lord Jesus Christ, and he is infinitely more merciful and loving than the mob which condmemned him (MEDITATE ON THIS). Once you have weened yourself of the need for approval you must then nurture your starved and abused mind (Mob-thinking is akin to being sodomized by a mob) to understand and seeking Truth and Wisdom.

"The LORD begot me, the beginning of his works, the forerunner of his deeds of long ago; (...) Now, children, listen to me; happy are they who keep my ways. Listen to instruction and grow wise, do not reject it! (...) For whoever finds me finds life, and wins favor from the LORD. But those who pass me by do violence to themselves; all who hate me love death."