Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Five Reasons I’m Glad I Joined Reddit

1. Better Conversation
In my social circles, Reddit has a terrible reputation for being full of trolls and backbiters. This isn’t my experience at all, though more nasties probably lurk in other sub-reddits. I've only registered on forums of interest – r/Fantasy, r/Books, r/Science, r/Anime, r/WorldNews – all of which offer bouquets of content that I otherwise wouldn’t have seen, as well as meeting authors and getting valuable publishing advice. And then there are the conversations.

Some of the best literary chats I had from March-May were among the comments on r/Fantasy, about how Horror and Fantasy can overlap, why Fantasy tends to stall in the first hundred pages, and even reflecting on the works of Gene Wolfe. Jerks tend to get isolated, called out, and most refreshingly, reasoned with until they’re disarmed. It’s actually deeper and nicer than most of conversations I've seen on Facebook walls, though I haven’t visited r/Politics yet.

2. Mary Robinette Kowal is my Editing Pop Idol
People say Seanan McGuire is amazing with her fans on Twitter, and she is, but I’ve never seen anyone interact with their readers like Mary Robinette Kowal did on r/Fantasy.

A reader linked to her article about revising old works to weed out idle prejudices and colonial attitudes, from both wording and plotting. It takes amazing guts to admit your mistakes in public. More amazing: when users questioned her motives or practices, she responded in considerate fashion and was open enough to change her mind on at least one edit. Twitter is too brief, and too easy to read as glib or hostile, for these sorts of exchanges. Here we had an author inviting people into her process and producing work she preferred thanks to the interaction.

3. I Met Mamoru Hosoda!

This is a function newspapers used to perform, but with the internet’s increasing noise frequency, a digital bulletin board like Reddit is a great way to realize something is coming up.

For instance: on March 14th, director Mamoru Hosoda screened his newest film, The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki, for free at MIT. I happened to be an hour from campus and got to both see the premiere and attend a Q&A session with one of my favorite minds in all of animation. Now marketed in the U.S. as "The Wolf Children," it's one of the best movies about growing up I've ever seen. I only saw it because of a post on Reddit’s r/Anime forum.
se frequency, a digital bulletin board like Reddit is a great way to realize something is coming up.

4. Back-patting mechanism
Say all you want about Facebook’s community of friends and Twitter’s retweets, but there’s nothing quite like the gratuitous approval of a joke getting a hundred upvotes overnight.

5. It’s not addictive
Some people don’t see why they’d ever want social media. I pose that challenge to myself regularly, but just as big a problem are those facets of social media that you can’t stop thinking about while you’re away and using when you’re at the computer. There’s a lovely woman on my road who is chemically addicted to FarmVille, and there are thousands of people along this coast who can’t spend a day without Facebook or 4chan.

I’m always afraid habit will turn into addiction for me. Reddit has won me over with its communities, but I feel no pang to keep checking my Comment Karma or participate in every thread. I can drop in and out as easily as Twitter – compelled to check if I'm at the computer, but not nagged to do so. That’s relieving both in a psychological analysis of myself, and for reaffirming that all the things I’ve enjoyed about it have been earnest experiences, not rationalization of compulsive behavior.


  1. You've convinced me to give Reddit a try.

  2. Cool you met Hosoda! Blogging can have that addiction sometimes. I know when to turn it off though.


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