Should I share my posts on reddit?

I have a conflicted relationship with reddit.

My current most immediate thoughts of reddit is that it’s a toxic, addictive and mostly unhealthy internet subculture/habit.

But, there are some really cool subreddits – /r/highqualitygifs is perhaps my favourite, producing such beauties as this:

I’ve also written before about /r/wholesomememes.

 

There’s other cool creative subreddits like /r/photoshopbattles or /r/writingprompts.

There’s good quality image subreddits like /r/historyporn.

Reddit is also a good first place for location based information, eg. /r/newzealand.

 

I have just created a new reddit account – where I actively filter a lot of the popular subreddits – /r/the_donald, /r/politics, etc.

And maybe I shouldn’t be browsing reddit at all – but I have different question.

 

It would be good for the visibility of my blog and other projects to be posting links to sites like reddit. There are plenty of subreddits where my posts would be relevant. /r/theoryofreddit perhaps.

However, I feel conflicted because do I really want my content circulating amongst a toxic culture?

Self promotion seems icky somehow. Lets consider the approach that we’re all really vying for is people’s attention. You could suggest that to improve the quality (the signal!) of what people are consuming, would be a good thing, and so that sharing your material would be a good thing.

 

Here’s another one!

http://spotsletters.blogspot.co.nz/

spotsleetters2.PNG
The linked article: http://canadiancrc.com/Newspaper_Articles/Globe_and_Mail_Moms_Little_secret_14DEC02.aspx

Here’s something I wonder about this one.

I really do like the idea of writing to people and organisations, and publishing the correspondence.

The question is – do I tell the people I intend to publish it in the opening letter?

I guess I should, it’s easy enough.

The argument against it would be people might be less likely to respond if that read that disclaimer.

But whatever. A single line at the start of the letter would be to the point. It might even stimulate a creative response.

Writing existentialism

I have more to write about than I have time to write. Seriously. I have a to-do list full of things topics to write about, and every time an interesting thought occurs to me, I add it to the list.

However, I work a forty hour week, and after going to the gym, coming home, having dinner and cleaning up, it’s usually time for bed, having no time to do any writing at all.

But often a free night will come up, and I think ‘I could do some writing!’. And then I ask myself ‘Is it really worth my time writing?’.

For example:

I could write a review about a movie I saw, or a restaurant I went to. But my review would be just one of many, among others whose career is to write these reviews.

I could write a piece reflecting a political opinion, but that opinion is probably well expressed somewhere.

With the exception of the people who know me personally – whom would be finding value in the reflections of personality and values, rather than the ideas themselves, chances are what I’m writing simply isn’t that interesting.

I myself tend not to read blogs. I read memes and cartoons and watch videos, but a blog tends to get dismissed with a ‘too long’.

An immediate counter argument: Yes – there’s plenty of people producing content that may not have value to me personally, and so it’s quite reasonable to extrapolate that the content I’m producing isn’t going to have much value to others. However – every now and then, there’s a song or a book, that I read and I think ‘I love this song/book!’ and it’s of immense value to me personally.

The writing I do doesn’t need to relevant of valuable to everybody, just that one person who has the feeling of great appreciation.

Here are some reasons for finding value in blogging:

Further abstraction

While the ideas I’m wanting to express might be already well expressed elsewhere, re-writing the idea helps abstract it into a more palatable form for the common audience. This is the essence of computer science, no longer are we individual toggling switches representing binary digits, or writing in assembly to direct instructions to CPU, we write in high level languages, and use APIs and libraries that already do the work for us.

My expressing the idea may not be improving the original idea, but it maybe help present the idea so that it is better understood.

Adding to volume of opinion

By repeating an idea, while not necessarily creating a new idea, I contribute to the volume of the opinion in the public space, and increases people perception of the accepted social value of that idea.

I’m a little uneasy with this argument though – it seems like the equivalent talking louder to make your point.

Because I enjoy it.

Simlilar to an activity like watching television, or going for a walk, are inherently valueless. Yes you can argue that my watching a television show might improve society indirectly by improving my knowledge about something, and also if it relaxes me and then I’m a better person for it, but for the most part, these activities don’t contribute value to society.

By the same token, even if my writing doesn’t contribute anything, if I’m enjoying doing it and getting relaxation from it (rather than a sense of guilt that I might from watching a TV show all evening), then it’s a good thing.

But if that’s the sole value of writing, then it seems that often watching that show (or going out socialising, or going for a hike) will be the better choice.

Costs of writing

Beyond question whether writing has any value in itself, there’s also the opportunity cost to be considered. For example even if we agree that there’s some value, both to myself and to the world, to be created from writing – you might argue that it would be much more effective for me to focus on something more pragmatic – such as learning new IT skills in order to advance my IT career.

Another thing I find paralysing when it comes to writing, is the potential social cost of writing. I wrote a little about this here. Just like when a teenager expresses their edgy ideas, thinking they’re original only to be embarrassed by them ten years later (I made such a website by the way), there’s the fear that anything I’m writing now, I’m going to be embarrassed by in the future. Even if agree with what I’ve said in the future, there can be the cringe factor that I’ve said it.

I was talking to a friend about this and the conclusion I’ve come to, is that part of the creative process might be simply writing what’s on your mind. Even if it produces some bad work, the idea is you need to get that out of the way before you can write your brilliant work. Thinking of it this makes me feel a lot better about it.

 

The direction of this blog.

In this post I discuss the tone of this blog, and whether I want to publish articles that may have negative social consequences for myself.

Recently I published a post, that, at the time I was aware that it might not be popular.

I wrote:

I think there is a social convention to not acknowledge this kind of exchange, at least not publicly.

  • It’s not good for me socially because it reveals that in some of interactions people don’t like me. This serves as an example of negative social proof and influences other people to adopt a similar attitude towards me.
  • It seems vindictive, which could make a bad social impression. The blog post could be interpreted as a calculated attempt to embarrass or vilify this particular person. Even though their details have been anonymised, so they won’t likely be publicly embarrassed, she could read it a still feel embarrassed or humiliated.

What I forgot to include when addressing the reasons why I shouldn’t post the post, was the reason I chose to publish the post in the end.

The reason was, having ummed and ahhed about it over a week, the post was just ready to come out on to paper. I didn’t want to curtail my creative expression because of social backlash. The Mark Twain quote springs to mind:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain might have never said that by the way.

When I decided to publish the post, I did so thinking ‘I can always take it down’.

As it happens, there was a bit of social criticism. (To be fair to the participants of Facebook thread, they did take care to mitigate any hurt feelings when expressing disapproval).

There was two points of criticism. The first was pointing out that that someone might be offended at being labelled; I’d shown my awareness of that in the post.

The more controversial point was that I’d mentioned being premenstrual as a possible reason someone might be acting grumpy.

I wrote:

Here, it seems timely to bring up the first obvious caveat, the person might just be having a bad day. Perhaps they slept in and were late for work. Perhaps the kids were playing up at the moment. Perhaps they’re premenstrual. Perhaps there was no coffee in the house.

The point of the criticism is that suggesting that someone’s grumpyness might be due to being premenstrual is dismissive, and offensive.

Meta: At this point I need to discuss the social appropriateness of screencapping conversations. It would be easier for the purposes of this post, to simply screencap the Facebook thread that discussed the post. It’s fairly public, it’s on my Facebook wall, so people posting on the thread in some sense are OK with other people seeing their opinions. That said, they might feel betrayed if I were to screencap it post it up here (where it’s 100% public, and not restricted to just my Facebook wall) , even if I did black out the names and profile pictures (which I always do).

The problem is, I wasn’t, and I’m not convinced that, in an attempt to empathise with someone, you shouldn’t consider that they might be premenstrual amongst several other things.

It’s entirely plausible due to the way that I’d written it, it was interpreted as either a hostile attack against the person, or a way of trivialising the persons feelings on the mater. The opposite is the case – in considering PMS, you imagine what their emotional state might be.

So then… I was in a state of considering writing a post ‘Is mentioning menstruation offensive?’. I was considering for it, doing some research on what PMS is, what causes it, and just whether it does in fact cause some women to act grumpy.

The problem is, this is likely to be another antagonistic post, which might upset or offend people.

So this brings me to the subject of this post:

What is the purpose of this blog? 

Well – let’s start with what this blog isn’t intended to be:

  • A forum for airing my online disagreements.
  • A troll blog. The purpose is not wind people up for the sole intention of winding people up.
  • An ‘edgy’ blog that exposes uncomfortable, thought arguably rational viewpoints.
  • A social justice warrior/anti-social justice warrior blog. I think discussing social justice issues with social justice warriors, is a game where the only winning move is to not play.
  • A blog to discuss the social rightness of other people’s actions. As an agnostic atheist I don’t believe there is any objective blueprint for the correct way to live your life. An attempt to evaluate the rightness of other people’s actions is really an attempt to find a reason to hate them and is simply not constructive.

Leaving that – what’s left remaining for this blog to be?

My purpose here is to simply be a creative outlet for writing, that I find interesting and enjoyable to write, and hopefully it provides some value to the people who read it.

Why is this relevant? 

Because I’m considering a career in writing, and I would show this blog to potential employers. The reaction I got to the rude messages post suggests that potential employers might find it unsavoury too, in which case it might be the smarter move to remove both this post, and the rude messages one.

What are you going to do?

I’m going to leave them up for now.

What about socially controversial posts? 

Good question! I don’t know. Being socially controversial is an interesting subject in itself:

  • Some people make a career out being socially controversial. eg. attack bloggers.
  • On the other hand, some people make a career out of get along with everybody they meet. eg. good managers.
  • Some people are successful regardless of the social controversy they cause. eg. Eminem.
  • Some people’s careers are built on generally not being controversial, but pushing the envelope a little. eg. conventional popstars.
  • Some people’s ideas were once socially controversial, and now are regarded as heroic. eg. Women’s suffrage activists, Martin Luther King.

There’s an interesting dilemma here. The social feedback I got does make consider removing some posts and censoring myself.

However, I think there’s a dangerous precedent, I think social cultural improvement happens, in part, because people resist and put up with negative social feedback to the socially controversial ideas they’re expressing.

It’s also worth mentioning that you can’t take everything criticism seriously. Some criticism might occur, again because someone said something without thinking, or because they’re a hateful person.

And then of course, there’s the implicit assumption I’m making here that any socially controversial posts do have some kind of legitimate value, and aren’t me actually just being an (unwitting) asshole.

Conclusion

The posts are staying for now. For next couple of weeks the material you’ll see probably won’t be that controversial, I don’t have anything more controversial to say at this point anyway.