I’m done with reddit.

I went to an extreme this week: I force quitted myself of the reddit habit. Reddit, if you’re somehow unfamiliar, is a social news aggregation website: members can rank user-submitted headlines that correspond to stories, images, and the like. In theory, the top 25 articles at any moment, the newspaper “front page” serves as a more interesting and timely version of reddit’s print, or even online, brethren; stories make it to the front page of reddit that get missed or dissed elsewhere. In theory, the Reddit community is broad enough to have an expansive worldview: differing thoughtpoints combined into clean, clear HTML and CSS.

I’ve been a reddit user since the early days: I lived through the multiple influxes of users from the much larger (and hence, by the theory of Internet audiences, more juvenile) digg. I lamented the death of the “good article”, the gradual replacement of interesting science and programming content on the frontpage for LOLcats and pictures from Russia. I survived the still-smoldering diatribes on Bush and that fresh minty wonderment of Ron Paul (the man it seems who can do no wrong). None of these were my source of frustration. I’m wholly aware that the “real” Internet is by and large a libertarian community: a free society of free thinkers who feel it should be kept free. It’s abhorrent to hear of police brutality, unfair business practices, and animal abusing Marines. In a sense, I’m glad that there’s a place where these problems appear front and center and are discussed, albeit somewhat sophomorically. Any discussion of a society’s consternations has value.

In openness, two articles I’ve submitted were found interesting enough by the reddit community to appear on the front page: one from the New Yorker called “We are all Larry David” (about how patients in therapy sympathize with the wince-worthy HBO character) and one called “The Man who Unboiled an Egg” from the Observer. Both are verbose, eccentric articles: I found them fascinating and submitted them. Overall, though, my ratio is poor: I’ve submitted other articles more for kicks, in an attempt to get a feel for what sticks with the community. And, in shame, I admit that I’ve submitted no less than three articles from this very blog. None gained any traction (in retrospect, that’s for the best.) I tell you this because I’m not one of those people who quit a community because they feel they’re not being heard. I was heard. I had one-liners and discussions, and reddit, until recently, served me well as an information and entertainment portal.

Reddit, however, has two major problems. One is that it’s very, very good at sucking you in. Any idle minute at my computer found me typing in www.re and selecting the first entry from the FireFox dropdown. Reddit sucks down those five/ten minute blocks in between tasks, then expands to fill the available space. I grew to rely on reddit: feeling uninformed if I didn’t visit at least once or twice a day. Nothing was equal to reddit: digg, the mainstream press, even rolling your own bloglist. I was a Reddit junkie. It eventually dawned on me that Reddit causes the problem it aims to eliminate: getting your information from only one point narrows your worldview.

A great thinker can analyze, critique, and respect a valid argument, and ultimately choose to reject it based on logic. But in order to become a great thinker, one needs to see a plethora of arguments for this process to reach maximal efficiency. Reddit, nor any community big or small, cannot do all the work of presenting arguments for validation: ultimately, any community collapses to the least common demoniator. I found myself blindly accepting those tales of police brutality, unfair business practices, and animal abusing Marines as representative of the whole. The reality painted by Reddit and the actuality of the real world are as opposite as fire and ice, but when you spend the majority of your time in the virtual world and not in the real one, which are you more likely to believe? Fortunately, some real world time gave me the following: I accidentally jaywalked in front of a cop and NOTHING HAPPENED. I bought a video game from Best Buy, set off the electronic sensor on my way out, and the security supervisor WAVED ME THROUGH. My belt set off the metal detector and when I apologized, the TSA representative said it HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. But after spending 20 minutes on Reddit, I’d be pissed as hell at cops, corporations, and corporals. (Sure, you could argue that if any one of these had ended differently, taken to some version of the back room and deprived of rights and freedom, this would be a different post. And I’d agree with you. The point is not that these things never happen, but that these things happen more rarely than Reddit would lead you to believe.)

The other problem is the Reddit community by and large likes to be the show, rather than see the show. Stories on Reddit come with comments, both in the form of editorialized headlines and in threaded conversations on reddit’s site. Additionally, Reddit allows (and I’d argue encourages) “self” posting, in which there’s no story, just a conversation. Some of these are interesting, others hilarious, but most are just venting and ad-hoc emotional votes. Here’s three of the latter type (from recent memory):

“Vote up if you don’t give a flying fuck about the Oscars.” “Vote up if you’re not watching the Super Bowl.” “Vote up if you think BUSH and CHENEY should be IMPEACHED!”

All three of these, if memory serves me correctly, were at or near the top of the front page. Maybe I’m not the audience: I watched the Oscars and the Super Bowl, and I’d think it’d be a major destabilization to an already shaky economy to remove the President from power or even force the administration to think about preparing a defense. (Granted, I’m not sold on that last one.) These “votes”, just as unscientific and uninteresting as the Ron Paul debate spamming polls, consistently get voted up to the top. Talking about the news is one thing, seeking confirmation that, indeed, other members of the community have the same ideologies as you is entirely something else. Ultimately, these were what drove me away; if the cream of an organization’s output is that we should “chimpeach the chimperor” instead of have a debate about the merits and shortcomings of the current administration, then what can you possibly learn by staying in that community?

So I’m done. I’ve blocked reddit at work (by routing the URL to the loopback address) and at home (by blocking it at the router). I’ve been gone for a week and already, I feel less angsty. Don’t get me wrong, the first 48 hours were hell: withdrawl sucks. But I can already feel the mindrot receeding. I’m not going to bitch about it at reddit, because I don’t feel the community wants to change.

I, however, do.

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46 thoughts on “I’m done with reddit.”

  1. Reddit is democracy. You sound like you want “your” point of view and nothing else.

    You mention Ron Paul many times. He got alot of votes (10% in some states), but did you ever once hear the main stream media talk about him without scorn? But on Reddit, he gets a fair shake. He’s a nut, but atleast we heard him out, instead of shunning him as the MSM did.

    You’ll also never hear about the total collapse of the dollar and the end of US hegemony on the MSM, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. (or maybe it isn’t, but they never even mention the possibility, which is very real)

    So, I say, go back to being a sheep. Listen to your corporate masters. Or better yet, do what most americans do. Tune out. Ignore the planet you live on. Buy another SUV. How about those Giants… $4 gas? Let’s see what ABC has to say about it….

  2. reddit has become much different. “Oversensationalized” and “premature” comes to mind. This past few months, because of the elections, have been extra grueling.

  3. I can sympathize. One year ago on Reddit I could submit a link to my latest blog entry and expect over 200 additional unique visits to my website. I even had 5 of my own articles make the front page at one time or another, causing traffic spikes ranging from 30-50 thousand visitors in a day. Nowadays, I simply can’t compete against the large number of Reddit users with Internet Attention Deficit Disorder. They seem to want nothing but [PIC]s, and consequently the links to my lengthy, self-written content gets downvoted immediately. I respect and understand your decision to leave the community.

  4. Hey, I remember that egg article. Fascinating stuff, exactly what I like to read on reddit… sorry to hear that you are leaving.

    Something we all have to remember when reading the news (from any source) is that the world is a big place & only the exceptions to the norm are ‘newsworthy’. That is, 99% of the time everything proceeds peacefully and smoothly, just as it should, and it’s only the 1% that makes the front page (of reddit, or your newspaper, or whatever). So, news, far from being an accurate representation of the world around you, is actually just a compendium of atypical events. Something I try to keep in mind anyway…

  5. Influx brings ignorance. Migration brings malignancy.

    It’s as though the well articulated community that once thrived on intellectual conversation has been replaced with a generation of uninitiated people who find it easier to inject feeble attempts at humor into converstations rather than post a reply that is substantiated with even the smallest inkling of intelligence. While there are attempts to create new communities that are more centered around such things, the inevitable will happen, popularity will set in and the new migration will begin. Moderation could be suggested as a solution, however it would require a massive group of people to control such a large crowd which would inevitably lead to superiority complexes among those in power and biased towards ideas that are contradictory to their own.

    The simple truth is that reddit (and digg alike) have jumped the proverbial shark and proven that community based quality content is fleeting and Eternal September marches on.

  6. Very annoying. You really don’t want to prosecute the President, despite million dead, trillions wasted, torture and spying, because it’ll “destabilize” the country? So exactly what crimes would one have to commit to be removed from office?

    We impeached Clinton over nothing a few years ago; I didn’t the see the country “destabilized”.

    If the only content that came out of Reddit was “jail the criminal who caused hundreds of thousands of deaths”, I’d be proud to be a member.

    Tell me; what do you have to offer us, o wise one? You’re so much smarter than we are; your contempt is for us is palpable; how would you fix the issue of a maverick, kill-crazy President who has stated time and again that he doesn’t believe the law applies to him?

  7. Hey, there has to be some place for anti-corporation and anti-establishment people to congregate. Reddit serves its purpose.

    But yeah, your mistake was having this as your only source of information/discussion. You’d have been just as ill-served if you made Fox News your only source. Balance!!

  8. I agree full heartedly with you. I have to say that this is what usually happens when a community grows to an uncontrollable size. The same thing happened to Digg, is happening to ./ and Reddit. Like #16 said, Reddit has served it’s purpose well as a gathering spot for anti-establishment people, the occasional “lol look at this funny picture” article and “vote up if you …” page, and this is really not something i’m looking forward to in the near future for Reddit.

  9. I go to reddit only occasionally, but I agree with your observation that much of reddit’s discussion is sensationalized and based only partly in reality. Sure, there is police brutality, but reading reddit would lead you to believe that it happens all the time and that all police officers are monsters.

    This, I could deal with. The main reason I tend to keep my distance from reddit is the overwhelming love of Ron Paul. Stories about him are fine, but there’s a point where I draw the line. I think the moment that convinced me to stay away from reddit for a while was when a post entitled like “Ron Paul Takes Minnesota!!!” was getting quite a few votes. See, he didn’t take Minnesota (obviously). The person looked at the website, with ~0% of polls reporting, and saw that Paul’s name was on top. They then assumed Paul won, so they rushed to reddit to celebrate. If those are the types of members that decide what gets to the front page, I’m not sure I want to waste my time with the site.

    Luckily, not all of reddit is like that. The key is to not rely too much on reddit. I’ll occasionally find some interesting things on the front page, or maybe I’ll skim through a few pages. It’s a great site to check once or twice a day when you’re bored. If it is your main source of news, you’ll get a flawed perspective on reality.

  10. I wrote that “Welcome to the New Reddit” article the other week…looks like more and more people are getting frustrated with the site.

    I haven’t quit it yet, but I find it easier and easier to stay away. It used to be this unending fount of new information. But these days, it’s monotone. The same narrow opinions hammered away at, again and again.

  11. … wow!

    I posted it to reddit to be ironic. I didn’t do anything to promote it. And it made the frontpage!

    If you have any bandwidth overage fees I can help you out. Just let me know. (I really have no idea how big the reddit effect is)

  12. Awesome post! Well written, and a very timely description of reddit. True, the front page which used to be so good is gone now. In fact, the first 75 stories are mostly crap at the moment. But you can still use self.reddit to create your own tailored home page, which is, sadly, how I now have to use my beloved reddit.

  13. i agree, it’s a good idea to stop browsing reddit. its range of content is getting narrower and the signs of hive-mind are becoming obvious even to people who don’t care all that much about that kind of thing.

    i recommend you use a meta-aggregator, a page that takes many aggregators, with their different communities and scopes of content, and, well, aggregates them.

    i recommend you check out popurls.com. right now it displays the 40 (or so) most recent headlines from the following aggregators on its front page:

    digg, reddit, delicious, propellor, truemors, boingboing, slashdot, metafilter, fark, wired, google news, yahoo news, newsvine, tailrank, huffington, stumbleupon, (and a few more i can’t recall off the top of my head).

    it also has a selection of currently popular media from flickr, youtube, metacafe, last.fm, and some other media sites.

    and at the bottom it has a bunch of links to the most recent feature of daily updated thingies, such as the onion, lifehacker, howstuffworks, and about 30 more.

    also i’ll mention that this is all on the main page, which takes about 600k to load and is quite pleasing to the eye imo.

    reddit is just a tiny slice of what’s going on, popurls gives a much broader picture of the goings on on the internet.

    i won’t benefit at all from typing this out, i just thought you sounded like you needed something better than reddit.

  14. Thanks for this post, because of it I questioned many of my own opinions. And while I do agree with your motives and also miss the early reddit, I would need a reddit replacement before moving on. Most days a little metafilter.com and aldaily.com will balance out the un-editorialized reddit shrill.

  15. Well written post; smart for you to have shut reddit down. Hey “justme”: the writer mentions Ron Paul twice; it could be argued that twice is “many”; hell, Dworkin argued that het intercourse is rape and there have been laws written based on such idiocy. Go flush your head. Meanwhile, seems none of the repliers have caught the concept that the author is talking about addiction, not viewpoints or politics. I have just recently found reddit and find it, along with my bleeding liberal radio, NPR, to be a refreshing balance to the zenophobic, racist, homophobic viewpoints I suffer through in a union construction trade. Any informed mind would tire of it but I have no tv at the moment so it’s useful to have some idea what’s happening “out there”. How about ya live and let live?

    Happy Trails!

  16. i can sympathise with some of the things you are saying. but overall i think the “problem” is not reddit. its the way you used it. for example, i am also a reddit addict. but every day i also check at least 5 other RSS feeds from various sources (BBC, AP, CNN, local news, you choose). this keeps a balance. like with all things in life, you need to find what is good measure. of course you know better for yourself..

    on a second note, i will have to agree with Tom. how can you complain about the efforts to impeach the current US administration? Even if it does destabilise your country -which is absurd, bush is destabilising (destroying?) it himself at a very fast rate. can you say debt or foreign policy?- getting rid of this administration is perhaps the most righteous thing for an american to do. Pardon me for the poor irony, but you must have been living in a cave for the last 7 years if you dont see why this is.

    Giannis, Greece.

  17. Reddit does have a problem with its political content – it tends to be extremely left of center (pro-Palestinian, anti-Bush, and at times antisemitic) and divorced from reality (there are nice cops out there). Reddit is NOT a democracy, it is a small, self-selected community that acts like a mob and votes and comments.

  18. Well said. I think you made excellent observations about your behavior and reddit. I can relate to much of it.

  19. I’m a moderate liberal. I have watched with pain the way Reddit has been hijacked by the extremes of political spectrum. I have also watched Ron Paul rise and fall. And anytime I see any articles that have to with these topics (Ron Paul, police ‘brutality’, government ‘corruption’), I vote it down. Hopefully, I’m making a difference.

  20. Hi there. I agree with you somewhat. Reddit has become the sort of source where it only takes 10-15 seconds to skim the articles a day and find maybe one or two amusing images or couple of 2 paragraph articles.

    Like you said, it’s good for getting rid of a couple minutes. Digg seems to leech more of my time but half of it I feel is spent on articles I’m not interested due to US politics. I like keeping up to date to some extent about it but being from the UK, there’s only so much I can take!

    I hope someone who genuinely found this article informative submitted it to reddit and not you or some associate ;)

  21. If I ever get the courage to go cold turkey off reddit, can I ask you to be my sponsor? ;)

    It’s been clear that the number of dissatisfied users has been steadily increasing, and I think reactions like this are becoming commonplace. I’m not surprised that they’re starting to allow “private” subreddits. I’ve been thinking for some time that this would be the way to go. It’s horribly elitist but, frankly, it’s the only way to prevent being inundated with the type of submissions and comments that ruin the experience.

    I really don’t have the energy to cultivate my own private subreddits, so for now I’m hoping I’ll eventually get invited to ones that are more representative of my tastes.

    Take heart, there’s many of us in the same boat!

  22. That is way more of a convincing argument then the ones the intellectual elitists put forward. I do not have a problem with vacuousness, it is a fact of life, I often chuckle at lolcats as a guilty pleasure, sadly…one just has to navigate through it. I think however you are making a mistake, you admit that just because the injustices aren’t happening to you doesn’t mean they aren’t happening, but you would rather just forget about them for the sake of not feeling depressed? That is the problem with westerners. They never allow themselves to get passionate enough to interfere with their comfortable lives. If it makes you sad, angsty, or angry, get out and do something about it!

  23. I quit reddit.com after the users went on a witch hunt against me and removed my moderator powers. Fuck them and fuck reddit.

  24. I wquit reddit.com after the users went on a witch hunt against me and removed my moderator powers. Fuck them and fuck reddit.w

  25. The site is turning into a circle jerk of left wing extremist. The only articles that get any coverage are those that agree with their persuasion. No intelligent discussion whatsoever.

    This whole Rand Paul = racist thing has really shown me what the site is about. I gave up trying to count the articles calling him a racist.

    Personally, I saw the whole debacle as a corporate hit piece. As falling over themselves leftist as they have become, they couldn’t connect the dots to save their asses.

    Maddow, works for MSNBC, a wholly owned subsidiary of defense contractor General Electric. Paul wants to end the Fed, thus severing the fire hose of money that defense contractors suck off of. It really is that simple.

    Whether Paul is a racist or not is irrelevant, he wants to tear down the empire – that was why he is a threat to the establishment.

    If the supposed anti-war Redditors were as intelligent as they claim to be, they’d see that Maddow is nothing more than a corporate shill war-whore. Did they? Well… if you’ve gotten this far I probably don’t have to answer that for you.

    Nothing but a bunch of knee jerk reactionary children.

    Phuck `em!!!!

  26. I hear ya. Honestly, Reddit is becoming more and more like 4chan, except instead of a bunch of young immature people, it’s a bunch of older immature people. Sure there are people there who want to positively and constructively contribute (and they do), but it’s on the brink of becoming a place that is better looked at from a distance instead of participated in. Now, these days, I’m seeing an increasing number of people that are getting ripped apart on reddit – their lives and personal information (even personal information of family memebers) found and posted for all the world to see, just because they their viewpoint is contradictory to another “redditor”.

    I’m curious to see what comes next after Reddit.

  27. I’m done too.

    Reddit tends to be far left wing. It all rings good – equal rights for everyone, democracy, and whatnot. They’re describing an utopian society, which is good as an endgame goal. Reality and the real world is very different from the virtual world though. Everything said about society on reddit might ring well theoretically, but will never work well practically in the real world. I blame that to be dued to the fact that an amazingly large number of redditors are Computer Science / IT majors, so I won’t blame them for not having proper political education and view on the world.

    justme said that Reddit is democracy. Yes, blind democracy. Democracy is useless without the debates it preceeds, and Reddit buries all comments and alternative point of views that they judge inappropriate, often without providing an adequate counter argument.

    I joined Reddit around 2008, and quit recently. I’ve seen the intellectual value of the comments drop a lot, more so than the frontpage itself. If anything, Reddit would have been an amazing place if it was kept a lot smaller. It became bland and boring just like most bigger communities. The occasional anti-republican remark, FOX news joke, or soviet russia joke were funny occasionally, but if you go see the Reddit comments now, you’ll see that every single thread is like the next one. Circlejerks on the top of the comment page, and conversation worthy comments that offer an alternative point of view are usually buried down below.

    Fuck that circlejerk. If anything, it has made me disassociate from the left wing movement / political ideas. There are just too many left wing retards, I don’t want to be put in the same bandwagon as them.

  28. Hate to say it, but I agree 100% with this article. Reddit has degraded to the point that if you’re not part of the in clique for whatever subreddit you post to, then you might as well just give up before you try posting. I think the same tards who ruined Digg have been hard at work on Reddit.

    The memes have been fine. The puns and jokes, sure. But it has now gotten to the point that you can’t say ANYTHING. In /r/science? Better not answer any questions unless you’re part of their select group of esteemed whoevers.

    Cracked a joke ANYWHERE? Better not be doing it while some attention whoring group is trying to command a thread or they’ll even go as far as making physical threats.

    Reddit was awesome when I joined a few years ago. As of now, fuck that place. It has turned into /b/ with kittens.

  29. darwin was nothing but a failed clergyman candidate who simply used for the justification of eugenics. tesla was nothing but an average engineer with no perspective for huge scalability problems. obama was nothing but a social media rally for die hard consumerists and millenial hipsters.

    u mad reddit? go back to your liberal sandbox and circle jerk to calm down.

  30. Fuck Reddit. In theory it’s a great idea, but the Karma system is a huge confounding feature that completely taints everything on the site. All anyone seems to care about is collecting karma (positive feedback) votes. The end result is that nobody ever truly speaks their mind honestly and sincerely, and people don’t necessarily always discuss a topic with all facets considered.

    Reddit users (so called “redditors”) blab on about how wonderful they are and kid that they share the “hivemind”, and think alike, but the reality seems to be that they are all scared to NOT share similarities, and anytime they post or comment they keep differences far enough away to not be seen by others. And the more users masturbate all over each other’s similarities, the more karma they award each other. I regularly get downvoted for my comments, but it’s not so much because I am that different as it is because reddit is all the same. It’s really quite pathetic. I’ve commented before “gee, why am I getting downvoted for XYZ? That makes no sense.. because.. etc.”, and the response from some no-brained, can’t think for himself twit is: “WE aren’t voting you down for XYZ, we are voting you down for ABC, asshole…”. Really? “We”? Good one, you mindless loser who can only find comfort in numbers.

    I will have to admit, you run across more actual discussions there than on most other sites, but the common folk of reddit truly are a lame bunch. The next time somebody does a “Hey Reddit! What are you doing right now! Submit a picture!” post, go in and take a hearty look. 90% of the users are these doughy, unshaven, nerdy, too-young, i’m-not-a-hipster-but-i’m-hip, so-called “adult” kids. It all makes sense when you see their faces. It really brings me back down to earth to look at them. Quite revealing and disappointing at the same time.

    Great concept. Stupid public. Fuck reddit.

  31. A lot of these comments feel satirical they are so bad. I also love how “You logically explained why you disagree, let me insult you and broad base who you are” It’s just too obviously “New reddit” that they have to be joking.

    There is no way 99% of these comments aren’t satire. I refuse to believe people are just flat out this lost and mental.

    Anyway, I totally agree, for months I’ve been trying to run from this nightmare that came to be what Reddit is now. I finally found someone who sees exactly what I saw.

    Also, to give my account from a much worse, much more loose version, Youtube, It went the same route. I could slowly see content diminishing, I dealt with a lot of videos I didn’t like but kind of bothered me (Like the racist overtone ones)

    And just one day it happened. It full out went KILLUMINATI TROLOLOLOL XD XD NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER.

    In metaphor,

    Youtube died the day that people started thinking Biggie Smalls talking about the twin towers being attacked as a conspiracy.

    He was talking about the attacks in 1993.

    In other words, these top level government/economic analysts, who were on the 900th level of research, missed a basic even that was broadcasted worldwide and a google search away.

    Here is an example:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNQHjV8acUU

    This was made in satire after so many people started spreading it around that he “predicted the NWO’s plan to attack the towers and is why they killed him”

    This is exactly where Reddit is headed. So thank you for helping me realize I need to get away early.

    I’d browse the comments for a new site, but I’m almost positive all I’ll run into is how you are an NSA spy here to brainwash people into ignoring truth.

    RON PAUL2014 SOBRAVE NIGGER FAG TROLOLOLOLOL XD XD XD

    RIP Reddit.

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