Is Reddit the savior of social media?


I had a dark social media time period for about two months last year. Fed up with the negativity and lack of connections to real friends, I started to rebel against the social media establishment.

My angst was palpable. Just ask my wife. “These people are idiots,” I once exclaimed very loudly, referring to the Zuckerberg types who control social media, not to those who post pictures of babies and kittens and Donald Trump.

After eliminating some social apps, significantly curtailing time spent on other apps and a short fast, I was on the path to social media enlightenment.

Deepak Chopra would be proud.

Of course, this didn’t stop me from writing about and lamenting on the experiences.

Others noticed a change in my normal social media cheerleader tone during my anti-social media emo phase.

You remember emo kids, right? Head-to-toe black clothing. Dark eyeliner. Black hair. Depressing music. A generally withdrawn disposition. Hating the world. That was me (minus the black hair, of course).

Call it a reaction to the disillusion the world was having with Facebook, but I was concerned about the psychological effects it and other platforms were having on me.

Then I found Reddit. Again.

In case you missed these knowledge-filled nuggets, I’ve written about Reddit here and (shameless plug) on my blog at adamearn.com.

First, it’s important to know what Reddit is not.

Reddit is not Facebook or Snapchat. It’s not Twitter, although I suspect in many ways, Reddit users would more or less liken their activity to tweets, retweets and hearts than other forms of posting.

This is because, like Twitter, Reddit bills itself as a social news aggregating and sharing service. Though to be sure, the news content is not always reliable.

But that’s where Reddit shines, separating the wheat from the fake news chaff.

Users post stories and other content in a message board-like environment, while other users “upvote,” “downvote,” and comment on the worthiness of that content.

How I envision Reddit saving social media has more to do with that user activity – the community curated and approved content – than it does with negativity, grandstanding, self-promotion, and the hated algorithms that control the content you see first on “big social” (e.g., a term used to reference the big social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram).

To be sure, Reddit has all of those features, but the community and functionality are what draw people in.

Reddit is not pretty. Don’t expect glitz and glamour. The interface is simplistic by traditional graphic design standards, and the desktop and app interfaces are nearly identical.

As you consider migrating from traditional social platforms, dividing your screen time between the accounts you’ve had since the birth of social media and the search for something new, maybe it’s time to show Reddit some (more) love.

Adam Earnheardt is chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University. Follow him on Twitter at @adamearn and email him at acearnheardt@ysu.edu.

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