I 19(F) Have an Obsession with Reddit

Photo by Erik Mclean via Unsplash

I, 19(F), like many of you, share a peculiar fascination with Reddit stories. These narratives, characterized by their outrageous nature, permeate our YouTube, Instagram, and especially TikTok feeds. Reddit users, eager to share their experiences or seek advice, inquire about the opinions of perfect strangers on the internet which then allows us to supply harsh but not unwarranted feedback in return. Is that why Reddit has become so popular? When did we as people become addicted to hearing about the lives of others? Why is the desire for people to overshare on the Internet so appealing? I would wager; that Reddit has become this popular because of a societal premonition for gossip which the social media platform has become a breeding ground for.

Reddit, as a social media forum, was launched in 2005 by American entrepreneurs Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian. They envisioned the platform as an outlet for users to find and submit articles from major news outlets, making them easily accessible. Instead of likes, Reddit has upvotes, which keeps the algorithm showing content users are interested in. Reddit consists of individual forums called subreddits that begin with “r/”. One of the most popular Reddit forums is “r/AskReddit,” where all the popular Reddit stories come on the scene. These stories will begin with “r/AskReddit: AITA…” followed by horrendous, even disgusting stories that often leave users irritated after fully reading them.

In my research, I came across a Reddit forum that ironically uses the platform to explain to us why it is unique to other forms of social media. In the “r/theoryofreddit” subreddit one commenter credits the success of Reddit to word of mouth, as users would tell their friends about the platform over the years. In my case, however, I heard about the platform because I was a teenager who needed advice on dealing with my adolescence. For me, Reddit was an outlet to find a community of people who were going through the same things that I was. However, I believe that over the past few years, the platform’s popularity has grown because of the “Reddit stories.” Suddenly, my TikTok feed is now filled with Reddit accounts that share stories about cheating husbands and annoying family members. As someone whose life is kind of boring, these stories are now the highlight of my social media experience.

Reddit exposes a fatal flaw in human nature, which is our need to gossip and to think that we are better than others. Remember Bridgerton and how enraptured members of the ton became to the scandalous new gossip column? The reason why Lady Wistledown became so popular is that the gossip was true information about other members of the ton. With that information, they were able to shun these unfortunates for their mistakes or misfortunes. Far from the 1800’s court of Queen Charlotte and into modern society, Reddit is a platform that makes us feel superior to other users. Comments of “well, if I was in that position, I would (insert condescending judgment)” or “well, if she did this, she would not be in that position in the first place” allow us to criticize the circumstances of these authors. In that way, we feel better about ourselves because in our minds we would never actually choose the choice present in those stories.

Even so, the authors of these stories willingly put their shameful or traumatic experiences on

the Internet for millions to comment on. If we are honest with ourselves, we know when a situation is ridiculous, and we know the answers to those problems deep down. Therefore, I can’t help but question the genuine nature of those who post on Reddit. Are they posting their stories for genuine advice, or are they doing it for social media likes? Fame is one hell of a drug, and many do and say ridiculous things to get their hit of it. While some genuine people on Reddit need advice, they are largely overshadowed by, in my opinion, social media junkies.

I would wager this, while Reddit aims to be a community-driven platform, it has become a digitalized gossip column. While I can admit that I enjoy Reddit stories, I can’t help but also self-criticize my motivation to read them. In this way, I add to the overgrowing popularity of Reddit as a platform. To Reddit authors, I propose considering the genuine nature of sharing personal stories online. Are these narratives shared for sincere advice or is the allure of social media popularity the driving force? For those like me, who are obsessed with Reddit, consider this; do we as humans hold the moral authority to label someone as good or bad, based on their online confessions?