Imagine, if you will a giant...no GINORMOUS "Information Desk" that's smack in the middle of a sea of humanity. There's queues ("Subreddits" or "Subs") for subjects no matter how arcane, vulgar, pedestrian or specialized that allow pretty much anyone to come in and offer their knowledge to those asking questions about said subject matter and a comment section under each post to further the conversation. Thing is, you don't even have to be an expert in the subject in which you find yourself enlightening the masses. Welcome to Reddit, the juggernaut that is owned by the Conde Nast corporation and has a worldwide readership.
Denizens of Reddit ("Redditors") are largely in the teen-to-25yr old bracket, but it's far from a "kiddie website". The demographic spans all generations. Reddit has done some pretty amazing things in its lifespan; the average Redditor seems to have some semblance of altruism to their personae and overall, it's a positive experience. Except when it's not.
I have been a Redditor for over five years now and contributed somewhere in the range of 50,000+ answers to questions, links to interesting stories, shared much of my life with virtual strangers and I've even made a few real-life friends there. And I'm leaving. I've truly, truly had enough of what Reddit delivers to its users and I believe that to be apathy and wasted time.
In present day, we absorb more information in one day than did someone living in the 15th century did over the entire span of their lifetime, and we're not any smarter for it. Think about that for a minute. 35 years of daily life in the 1400's includes all human interactions and life experiences. All that shunted by one day on a pipeline of "knowledge" that is Reddit. That's pretty huge. Sure, they didn't have any sort of technology other than the then-new invention of the printing press which probably took a minute to catch on, but they had that human connection that in real life, is more meaningful than any sort of crystal ball.
You're working as an unpaid intern for Conde Nast.
When you contribute to Reddit, you're essentially manning a slot at the help desk, fielding questions and offering your knowledge for free to the masses. I'm one who truly believes "sharing is caring" and due to my default settings, I gave much of myself to the site as a contributor. The only rewards offered are A- the respect of your peers and B- "Karma"; " Link Karma" for things you share and "Post Karma" for answers to questions in the discussion that you provide.
You are an avatar of yourself.
When I signed on to Reddit I made the fatal mistake of using my "Real Name"; OK, "BillRayDrums" is not my full given name, but it's who I am and what I do. It leads back to me as a human and I've noticed on many discussions over the years the disdain that the average Redditor holds for such "realness". I've spent the better part of 45 years, ever since I was cognizant of thought and expression trying to "be real." If you truly want to be effective on Reddit then you must give yourself a catchy screen name to shield you from the oustide world or in another light, absolve one from owning up to something they said or did and to me, that's another harbinger of apathy.
Once there was a guy from a popular "tribute band" that had stepped up on me and began to troll me for an extended period. My question to him was "When you get on stage you gotta pretend to be "(insert famous rockstar name here)". When I go on stage, I get to be me... any questions?" That shut him up quick. I don't like fakeness, I don't hide from anyone. If the IRS can find me then chances are so can anyone else.
The information you give is cheapened.
When I was growing up in the 1980's all we had for information was magazines, books, and the newly invented VCR which allowed consumer level people the ability to purchase and play back content of specific subject and also record onself doing things. Of course sharing such moments was a process. You had to record the thing, make a duplicate of it (if you wanted to retain the original copy), then head to the post office and mail it off and that could take anywhere from 24 hours up to weeks or months, depending where the package was headed.
In this day and age, if one wants to watch nothing but drum solos for hours then all they must do is go to YouTube and tune in and their plate will be filled with solo after solo after solo. Conversely, if someone wants to learn how to play "The Oakland Stroke" by Tower Of Power on the drums, there's a YouTube video for that breaking it down to all the small finer points that will give a younger player the ability to have it up and running in a matter of minutes as opposed to the month or so it took us older folks when such tutorials were not "on tap".
When I share something from my mind freely and with no expectation of return, one would expect a bit of gratitude for having done so. Seems that in every sub there's a cadre of Redditors who have no sense of appreciation and they tacitly "Downvote" (to take Karma) in disapproval no matter how much thought and care went into providing the answer. As a musician of 30+ years who has worked with my share of difficult people I've got a really thick skin, but at some point there's a light at the end of the tunnel and that's in the form of a paycheck. Until Reddit offers monetary compensation for what I bring to the table I made the decision to cease providing the masses there with my knowledge because I feel that it "cheapens my brand." If you want information from me then either Follow me on Facebook where most people are "real" or buy my book.
Speaking of drummers...
Having been a drummer for over 45 years now I've always known drummers to be of a fraternal order of sorts; doesn't matter where or whom the person is, if I find out they're a drummer there's always something to talk about. From what I see on the boards over at Reddit, that spirit is diminishing somewhat.
Yeah, drummers can be insufferable divas at times because we're typically hard headed buffoons who think we're right 99.9999999% of the time but at the end of the day some of the passive agressiveness displayed in those forums is downright laughable. Some folks will never understand that spirit, because living in the one dimensionalness that is text-based communication won't convey the spirit and human touch that does in person meetings.
I tried my best to bring that element to the subs and while there were a few who truly "got it", there seems to be a larger faction of people who will never truly "pass the drummer test" no matter how technically proficient they become. Game over!
I found myself somewhat judgmental towards those who identified themselves as a Redditor... "I know you from Reddit" would immediately make me question their motives as to why they were speaking to me, and that's not right.
You're contributing to a greater sense of Apathy.
As it's been said that Redditors are torchbearers of altruism, the opposite of said altruism is apathy. "Seen it already" is a common phrase either spoken or thought because yes, chances are if you see it on the news it was on Reddit first. It's what Art Bell spoke of in the 1990's; "The Quickening" in that everything goes so much faster now that conventional methods and manners of delivery cannot begin to keep up with the pace. But what exactly are we expecting as humans? Cute cat videos? "Instant Karma" being delivered to those with malevolent intent? The growing movement of "Social Justice Warriors" (SJWs) seems to thrive upon such missteps of people and while the SJWs have done amazing work in bringing consequence to those who truly deserve it, they also have ben responsible for ruining otherwise innocent folks' lives because of snap judgements that lead the pitchfork-carrying masses to the wrong doorstep. Or maybe the right doorstep but the asshole they're after moved out three months prior and now there's a poor family who is being tormented. At some point the sheen of altruism is singed off and replaced with something more like the "Rhino Lining" in the bed of a pickup truck and the ability to feel humanity is diminished. I've experienced this personally and at some point woke up to that fact.
Look, Reddit is not a breeding ground for sociopaths or serial killers, that's not even what I'm saying. However in this day and age of empathetic decline it's certainly a contributing factor to that essential human element.
Many of the younger people who frequent the site cannot think back to a time period where there was no "Internet"; they have absolutely zero frame of reference to an older person's mindset because they've all known nothing but the internet. I lived 25 years before the advent of instant communication via text-based mediums came to be. In scope of the average demographic of the average Redditor, I and many of my friends and peers had what amounts to be a lifetime of internet-free living.
We "Generation X'ers" can all remember the human condition... we were raised with cassette tapes, vinyl records, VCRs, Atari 2600, 8bit graphics, all those things that the younger set seem to embrace with a certain nostalgia and yearning that they "wish they had grown up in those times". Well, times were certainly different then and unfortunately many of today's youth would have their asses handed to them and kicked straight back to the time machine whence they blinked in on because of the differing mindset. However, keeping both feet planted in the past is a dismal existence and turns one into a grouchy and grumpy old turd. I like the fact that we're moving fast, technology is bringing us more and more amazing things to marvel at and the youth of today are taking the knowlege of their predecessors to incredible new heights and places. They are actively creating the world in which they will inherit and are an incredibly powerful force of reckoning. I'm honored to be a part of that.
But at some point one has to step up, reclaim their intellectual offerings from the filing cabinet that is their posting history and realize that the human element is far greater than what an electronic medium will ever be. Just like when they tried to replace drummers with drum machines, they came real close but as drummers, we adapted and made peace with them and now ply our talent alongside the soulless cadences that emanate forth. Humans will always win. And a main difference between humans and mechanical/electronics is a time limitation.
I've wasted too much time and energy on Reddit and it's been past time for me to leave. And it feels good, like breaking an addiction of sorts. A liberation. I've got books to write, clinics to give, lessons to teach and plinking around on a website all day isn't going to get anything done, being the compulsive individual that I tend to be.
Be good to each other and see you "IRL".