When I opened a Facebook account years ago, I wasn’t sure the lackluster site would ever be as popular as MySpace. My fortune telling skills never improved but I enjoyed a period of relative peace with Facebook. Like everyone else, I enjoyed keeping in touch with family, friends and others who I didn’t get to spend time with on a daily basis. I was encouraged to build a large “friend” base to promote my music efforts and it worked.
That’s how Facebook sinks the teeth in. When it becomes your central news feed, a scrolling current events medium with your morning coffee, is when the darkness creeps into your very being. Despite a very interesting collection of artists, writers, musicians, scientists, geeks and tradesmen on my page, a significant amount of noise creeps through. Despite my efforts to weed it out using the “follow” feature, maddening stuff still creeps through and makes my coffee taste like bile.
Still, as with passive-aggressive yet very attractive girlfriend, you keep going back. Just like the last time, the interesting article a high school buddy posted about the Martian plumes is bookended by the same cat video and political re-post that disgusted you the last time. Sure, you can unfollow, but you’ll wind up unfollowing 90% of your friends list, so why not just delete our account?
We don’t want to delete because, despite what we may want to think, we are social creatures. The rantings of our true friends and family make us smile, but large friend lists dilute the experience. It really sucks up the time, especially if you’re using it to “cherry pick” your news, as I did. When Lent rolled around, I added Facebook to the fire of time-vampires. I chose to use the time for more productive things. The plan was pretty simple. I don’t have the option of deleting or completely abandoning my account. I’m in it for the long haul because it’s a means of communication within organizations and circles very precious to me as well as my day job, so there’s no going back. The plan was to check messages and group updates a time or two during the day, then go away.
The plan worked, but maybe a little too well. I was missing a newsfeed that covered a broad range of interests and offered input from varying points of view. I was already a “Redditor,” so I spent a bit more time there and took the relationship to the next level.
Reddit, www.reddit.com, has become huge over the last few years. It is a giant, international site that receives posting of links, articles and photos, submitted by users, and categorizes them by topics and allows viewing by topic or popularity. There are thousands of “subreddits,” Reddit’s sub-groups, and a search will bring up just about ANYTHING you’re into. Since lists are all the rage, here are 10 reasons why Reddit is better than Facebook:
1. Much of the content is original, or at least original to the reader. Cool stuff is usually on Reddit a week before it’s recycled ad-nauseum on your Facebook feed.
2. Whatever you want, it’s there. If not, put it there. I mean EVERYTHING from needlepoint to Nazis, it’s on Reddit.
3. Content placement is vote-based. The stupid stuff doesn’t make it to the top of your feed.
4. It’s easier to dial in what you want to see and tune out what you don’t.
5. It’s a little tougher to use, so it “weeds out” a layer of users who don’t need to be there.
6. Good writing. You’ll often be impressed with fellow Redditors.
7. Far fewer ads. They’re less intrusive and can be turned off.
8. You can award people with “Reddit Gold.” For a couple of bucks, you can give another user premium access for a post that’s particularly moving to you.
9. It’s anonymous. If you really have to reply, you can do so without offending Aunt Myrtle. You can also rant or confess and still show your face at work.
10. International. Did you know that Australians have rednecks? They call them “bogans” and they make for hilarious conversation when comparing to the domestic variety.
Remember that Facebook is social media. If you’re looking for more media and less social, Reddit is the place. If it’s not the place for you, learn how to configure your settings and it will become a place for you. I often close my Reddit sessions with a sense that I gained something, which is not the case with Facebook. My goal was to limit and make better use of my time at the keyboard. Done.