MANNO: Reddit: r/eplacement communities?

I fixed myself a 60-second timer to see how many interesting tidbits I could discover on Reddit. Here are the (strangely satisfying) results:

An alternative order for watching “Star Wars”; why WWII soldiers did not use shields; evidence that fracking has caused recent Dallas earthquakes; an article explaining why “Ladies’ Night” is banned in California bars; a photo of tulip fields in the Netherlands; a picture of a cat. There was also a curious link for “an important message about pocket whales from a preeminent marine biologist” – naturally, it brought me to YouTube for one of George Constanza’s finest “Seinfeld” moments.

And if anyone was wondering, the 720,000 stolen gallons of Canadian maple syrup have been recovered. Waffles for all!

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Reddit is a website with postings by users on an infinite number of subjects – world politics, advice, funny looking dogs, you name it. It’s a conglomeration of articles from all around the web and self-posts by users. Certain post get preferential placement by way of user ‘upvotes,’ which is why certain posts appear at a higher rank on a given day.

I feel obligated to admit that I probably passed by 20 other feline photos in this adrenaline-soaked minute, but still, that’s quite a lot to learn in such a short time. I can’t get enough of Reddit – the photos, the comments, the advice, the articles, the questions and everything in between. Reddit is what the Internet is made for, even beyond the cats. There’s a place for everyone.

But that word … do I really think of Reddit as a ‘place?

Maybe it’s not a place per se, but at the very least, Reddit is a ‘community.’ It’s a giant cork board in the middle of the Internet. And with the digital age, I think this term needs redefining.

A community is an accommodating sum of all its parts, and in this way, Reddit is a massive uber-state. A community is neighborly when convenient and critical when it needs to be. And a proper community is democratic in the sense that all members can chime in as they wish. There are communities in online gaming, forums for exchanging Springsteen tickets, even chat rooms for strange old men. College kids fall into tons of them.

Through so-called ‘subreddits,’ Redditors can find aggregate information from like-minded folks about, well, anything. Although conservative front-page searchers will find a liberal bias reflective of the Internet itself, for example, r/conservative will suit their fancy. Recently on r/movies, I found this gem: “Would Sex and the City 2 be considered a dystopian science fiction film if it were shown to a 1950s audience?” And fellow Seinfeld fans, check out r/georgegifs and rejoice.

With this said, it’s no surprise we now align ourselves with online communities so often.  The pre-Internet populace had to go and seek out people with similar interests, from book clubs to town hall meetings. Far different than the old way, online communities condense these experiences into one ‘place.’ We forgo the face-to-face interaction, but hey, I can do it from my couch.

I must reveal my partiality, though, as my experience on Reddit has been an especially positive one. I had my 15 minutes on Reddit with an ‘obnoxious childhood friend’ meme about playing Monopoly, which crawled up to the third page of posts. Feel free to stop me on the street for an autograph – I always enjoy giving back to the common people.

One of the most thrilling Reddit moments to me was an Ask Me Anything session with TV host and suspender enthusiast Larry King. He was fantastic, answering questions about childhood inspiration, how he became a broadcaster, his favorite cartoon cameo and his methods for bad interviewees. There are hundreds of other AMAs – Reddit favorite Neil DeGrasse Tyson gave a good one, “Looper” director Rian Johnson recently did it and President Barack Obama caused the servers to crash about a month ago.

Again, this is just one small part of a bustling community. Even if you can’t get a question in, what an opportunity it is to watch a very human exchange between some average folks and a big name.

The Internet is a crazy open frontier – the so-called “information superhighway” – and Reddit can be the best of the best on all fronts if you know where to look. Now if only they could find a way to cure this bacon shortage.