Saturday, November 7, 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 6: Why I Quit Reddit

Yup, I'm a day late (and probably a dollar short). Yesterday turned into an unexpectedly busy day. I left work at 4pm and didn't get home until 11:30pm at which point I was too tired to write this post. Also, I knew I'd be waking up at 6:30am this morning (to watch this), and I wasn't about to waste precious sleep time!

Yesterday's topic is why I decided to quit Reddit.

I imagine most people know what Reddit is, but if not, it's a massive website of user submitted content. The website is broken down into communities called subreddits, which can cover any topic imaginable. According to one website, there are over 853,000 subreddits (9330 of which are active), and 36 million user accounts.

By far the biggest reason I decided to quit Reddit was because of how much time I wasted on it. I signed up for Reddit in June 2011 and spent at least an hour on it every day, but sometimes upwards 4-6 hours. It's a complete time suck and I'd long been resenting myself for spending so much time on it, yet I felt unable to break away. Starting around the beginning of the year, I decided to start closing my laptop when I felt bored by the Internet, instead of just refreshing Reddit for new content.

Because of how much time I spent looking at Reddit, I was constantly upgrading the data package on my phone. I started with 500MB a few years ago and I now have a 5GB plan. I was basically paying to browse Reddit while not at home. I knew I needed to quit when a few months ago, mid-month, I got a notice that I'd used 75% of my data for the month. And yes, I use wifi at home. Obviously, I was addicted.

The other big reason I quit was because I got tired of reading people's stupid opinions. The comment threads are a big part of Reddit and it is not uncommon to see threads with 10,000+ comments. As for the demographics of Reddit, American males aged 18-29 comprise the largest group of users. It is a very male atmosphere and it started to really irritate me after awhile. Initially I found it interesting to be exposed to the male psyche in a way I'd never before experienced, but after 4 years of it, I needed a break. There is so much rationalized misogyny, petty arguments between users, misinformation, and bigoted, homophobic, and transphobic bullshit, I could stands no more. I would read a dumb comment by somebody about something and I would be annoyed all day that somebody so idiotic could actually exist in the same world as me.

I even started to feel confused about the world and current events. It was hard to have any opinion when I was exposed to so much noise. It's good to re-evaluate your perceptions every now and then, but I felt like my own perceptions were being crowded out by the perceptions of the average American 18-29 year old male. It was making me unhappy and dissatisfied with the world.

Lastly, because I'd used the same user account the entire time, I started to feel concerned about my privacy. If someone wanted to, they could piece together what I look like, where I live, where I work, what my name is, and find me on Facebook. In this day and age, that is way too much information to be floating around. Before quitting, I deleted all my comments that hadn't yet archived. It took hours but I felt a sense of relief when it was all gone.

At the end of September, after finally going through all my Reddit bookmarks and deleting all my content, I deleted my Reddit bookmark, the Reddit app, logged out, and never went back. I decided cold turkey would be the best.

So what is life like post-Reddit? I can say that I am happier. I spend less time on the computer and my phone. I spend more time cooking, baking, and sewing. I don't feel frustrated about stupid crap I read and overall, I feel like I have more space in my brain for my own thoughts.

I thought I would miss Reddit and feel lost without it, but I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to just walk away. I still think about Reddit every now and then, but as the weeks go by, I think about it less and less.

Both Anthony and my sister literally gasped when I told them I'd quit Reddit. I'm not sure what specifically was shocking to them; that I could exist without Reddit, or that anyone would want to. I feel a little like Theodore Twombly at the end of Her, when he finally gets to experience the world on his own, without his OS. The sun is rising and finally I'm not too busy staring at my phone to enjoy it.

1 comment:

  1. I've thought about quitting Facebook for the same reason. When I'm bored, I have to find other things to do, otherwise, I'm annoyed at the sheer number of terrible and/or false things posted. Especially regarding politics.



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