Saturday, November 17, 2012

My love/hate relationship with Reddit (and the Euthanasia Coaster)

Or: "A New User's Guide To Reddit"

Reddit is one of the best sites in the world. Sometimes when I tell people this they return to me mystified. "Did you sign up?" I ask. "And did you ditch most of the default subs and make a list of your own?"

"Default what?"

Then I sigh.

Well, yeah, it's a pretty shitty site (shite?) if you don't sign up for it and make severe modifications to the default subs. Whenever I see, at a mere glance, armies of cats or newfound atheists whining about their family members in the form of rage comics (or halfhearted rabble rousing in the supposedly political sub... Zzzzzz) I'm reminded to sign in.

1. Go to
2. Like it? Sign up and end here. You're through. Have fun. Don't like it? Proceed to Step 3...
3. Sign up anyway, delete all of the default subs and build your own list of interests. I don't care what you're into, you're going to find it on Reddit somewhere.

For the record, I'm glad Reddit provides a venue for young internet users to vent their frustrations of growing up atheist (or Christian, or Muslim, or in any religion you can think of), but it's just not as informative as I was expecting it to be. Cheers to Reddit for normalizing topics like atheism in a mainstream outlet, but I agree with Neil deGrasse Tyson on the subject: making it a point that you don't believe in God is like going out of your way to make it a point that you don't golf.

(As Reddit is absolutely infatuated with NDT, his quote inspired the sub /r/nongolfers, which is a tongue-and-cheek opponent of "the teeist agenda." As much as I complain about the typical Reddit humor, small doses of it crack me the hell up.)

You could say the default reddits cater to the absolutely lowest common denominator—not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that; brain candy ain't bad all the time and I'm not entirely innocent of seeking out dumb entertainment from time to time. But it gets old quickly even if you happen to enjoy the subject of the subreddit. Today I was surprised to find The Most Interesting Man is still a meme. If you don't know what a meme is (in this context) I might just envy you.

Used correctly, though, the site becomes an awesome newspaper, the front page of which is customized with the hottest user-submitted news in your particular interests. Here's my current setup:

askscience (perhaps the best moderated forum on the planet)
Games (not to be confused with the more sloppily moderated /r/gaming)

That list is always evolving. I try new subs frequently and dump 'em the second they begin rampantly posting pictures with words on them. And there are other subs I frequent whenever the mood strikes me, such as /r/wtf, which provided this jewel today:

Now that's funny. And no cats were humiliated in the making of it, either.

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