Social media companies are doing their darndest to give their users a pleasant experience- but toxicity is still out there. You can find it easily enough, or it’ll find you somewhere along the way. Penny arcade had a great theory about this way back in 2004 and it’s stuck with me ever since as being true. Basically, a totally normal person + internet anonymity + Audience = jerk (their language is a bit more colourful!). Of course, these days in many social media situations, “internet anonymity” has been replaced with “online persona”, but the principle still stands… Put people in front of an audience and take away the perception that there are real world consequences to online interactions and the result is: people misbehave to get attention! This really shouldn’t be a surprise.
Now the flip-side! Online communities are not inherently toxic. Sure, they thrive where toxicity exists, because outrage monetizes easily, but that doesn’t mean they have to be used in that way. There can be meaningful friendships made and maintained through this medium, that is a possibility! But like offline social interactions, it’ll take a bit of effort and quite a bit of perseverance.
Anyways, a week or so ago I thought I’d give reddit another shot, not as a media consumer, but as a content creator. I want people to read my stuff, but I also really enjoy reading other peoples stuff and feel like I should encourage other creators (especially if I’m hoping internet strangers may do the same for me- it’s only fair!). I gave reddit up for New Years two years ago because I found it wasn’t contributing a whole lot to my life… but to be honest, I wasn’t contributing anything to the conversation, I was just lurking, mindlessly scrolling through “the front page of the internet.” So- REDDIT TAKE TWO!
And- My first post back got downvoted! Yeesh! Haha. But it’s all good. I tried again- I posted a smallville comic to the smallville subreddit and people seemed to like it well enough! The internet’s a strange beast, and the social communities on it follow suit. It can be fun though, right?