Two years ago I was introduced to Reddit and the way I approached and interacted with social media changed. The platform I needed was an open space for communication, no judgement and the feeling of being enveloped with like-minded people and Reddit gave that to me.
At first glance I was intimidated by it. The platform dubs itself ‘the front page of the internet’, and looking at the website, the amount of information to take in was just too overwhelming and I left it alone for several months. I was reintroduced by a friend I met at university and they showed me the ropes, but instead of using the website on desktop, I signed up to it on the app. When presenting a ‘how to’ guide to Reddit for my colleagues, I read that 44% of Reddit's active monthly users access the site via mobile app. I think this is so high because it makes the user interface less daunting and essentially gives you Reddit, but in a bitesize format, much more tolerable and much nicer to interact with.
Entering the space was daunting and I was scared to interact with any post and would only upvote a few things here and there, but as I spent hours going deeper into subreddits, I found communities that welcomed me with open arms. I suppose the hesitation I had with posting and interacting is the ingrained way we post on other social media platforms. On Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I follow all of my friends, most of my family and anyone in between, there is no escape from someone you know. Reddit is a domain where no one knew who I was and there is something so powerful and freeing about this fact as I scroll for hours looking at all the animal subs I could find.
I enjoyed how free I felt when reading the comments, with other social media platforms, I never post because everyone knows me on there and the sense of judgment and the way you present yourself on those platforms really defines the overall experience I would have.
This gave me a sense of isolation and comfort as I explored the platform. As time went on and I got more comfortable with the platform I submitted my first post on the subreddit r/plantclinic, I posted a picture of a dying plant at my work and people ran to my aid with advice and solutions. The plant (I say with a heavy heart) died, but my appreciation for the people trying to help me gave me the confidence to post more.
I would say after two years of using the social media platform that I now click on the app first unconsciously when I open my phone, when before it was always Instagram. This is because I can get a true representation of what people are thinking. Subreddits are moderated by the users, out of pure enjoyment – and that is something I really admire. Having interaction with a self-made expert gives you the confidence to do anything. People are willing to share experiences, tips and more in order to help others.
This makes the experience of learning something new on your own something you can connect with others over and feel part of a much bigger community, something that may be missing in their lives.
In testing times like the current climate, Reddit is a vital platform of community, connectivity, and acceptance. If you need a new hobby, someone to talk to, funny dog videos, Reddit can supply you with all of it and so, so much more. With #stayhome, I see no better way to try out a new platform and I promise you, you won’t be sorry you did.
Keeley McManus, junior video editor at Wilderness Agency