Online Negativity Is A Form of Virus
As the victim of a three-year-long harassment campaign, during which my name has been slandered, attacked, and dragged through the mud, I've come to understand a few vital points on the nature of just how effectively the Internet can be used to spread disinformation and hatred. I believe comparing smear campaigns to viruses or pathogens is apt- like any disease, negativity is more appealing to the human psyche than positivity, and has a tendency to become more widely recognized and discussed.
As with memes, smear campaigns utilize the viral nature of the Internet to ensure widespread availability and dissemination. At the same time, those who operate such endeavors are likely to conceal their true identities for fear of retribution. Anonymity also aids in the ability to deny guilt or personal accountability in the dissemination of a lie. When one is not a professional journalist, one can make any claim with little fear of retribution, as one is not held to the same standards of ethics journalists are. The Internet is especially great at presenting unfounded opinion as well-researched fact, and amplifying the voices of uninformed individuals to a wider audience than would likely be accessible in print media.
If the Internet is a living organism, which requires the free exchange of information, then those who would actively prevent the truth from being revealed are in effect killing the Internet. If open communication is the Internet's bloodstream, then those who stop the free exchange of communication are tampering with the healthy circulation of vital nutrients. Without both sides of an argument being allowed to come forward and present their case, the Internet will die.
As I mentioned earlier, I myself am the victim of several targeted hate campaigns conducted on Reddit. These campaigns target me on the basis of my disability, my identity, and they take certain things I've said over the course of three years completely out of context while painting me, simultaneously, as a far-right extremist, a vicious troll, a clout-chasing bigot, an attention-hungry misogynist, a racist, a transphobe, a homophobe, etc. These mischaracterizations are entirely false, as I have never once said or done anything that could be misconstrued by a reasonable person as remotely misogynist, racist, or homophobic. Nonetheless, these lies persist, as the people who spread them and consume them are not reasonable. They actively work to ensure that I am not given a voice with which I can defend myself.
Reddit, I'm convinced, is one of the worst websites ever created, and for the past three years of pure Hell it has been used by these people in order to blackmail me, harass me, rile up mobs against me, and threaten my life and family. Reddit does not only allow this harassment to continue, they endorse it, banning anyone who goes against the narrative these bad actors wish to present. It is a farce, a kangaroo court, a crime against everything the Internet should represent.
Reddit is doing this, I'm sure, to save face, as they are currently one of the most disliked websites of all time. They are known for having hosted vile and reprehensible material on their website throughout much of the early 2010s- potentially illegal material, even- all under the guise of "free speech," and now in the later 2010s and early 2020s have done a complete 180 to save face and now ban and censor the least offensive content imaginable without a second thought or any form of justification. I arrived on the site at an interesting period in its history- during the transitional phase, when it went from a no-holds-barred anarchist chaos arena to an authoritarian police state. As such, I was able to witness, firsthand, in a microcosm, the transformation of the Internet.
I predicted, in 2019, that the public's opinion toward the site would soon shift and Reddit would be viewed for what it has become- an outright circus. At the time, the general public's opinion was mostly positive. However, as the years went on, my prediction came to fruition. Reddit became embroiled in multiple scandals which would put the follies of Facebook to shame- for instance, the debacle during which they knowingly hired a sex offender and then banned anyone who dared post about it. They are now one of the most censorship-heavy websites on the Internet, deleting a huge fraction of all content submitted. Programmers have wasted hours trying to create facsimiles of the website without censorship, such as "Removeddit," all to no avail.
The case of Reddit is a good example of just how quickly negativity can spread. What exists on Reddit today is a false sort of toxic positivity to counteract the outright negativity which persists in groups such as the one which has targeted me. Reddit has become nothing more than 90% pictures of adorable cats with no substance and 10% hate groups which masquerade as righteous causes while spewing ableist and racist rhetoric. The people who attack me do so with no checks, no balances, no restraint, and they are, for no reason whatsoever, hellbent on seeing my failure, to a compulsive, even sociopathic, degree.
What is particularly sad about their efforts to silence me is that I do not care. They cannot convince me that I am who they say I am, because I know who I am and will continue to try and spread genuine positivity and accurate information as much as I possibly can. As I said, anyone who attempts to clear my name or defend me on Reddit is instantly banned, and all their comments are removed. Given the echo chamber my opponents have constructed, and which the official Site staff have publicly endorsed, Reddit is beyond hope. It is a website on fire, burning to a crisp while the rest of the Internet points at it and laughs hysterically. It is a malformed freak.
This is why I find such solace here on these smaller forums, which never lend themselves to vitriol or hyperbole, where every thought is reasoned and calculated and put forward in good faith, which are run using a fair and open system, where everyone is able to write and express themselves without fear and without constant attack.
While forums such as this are small currently, it is my prediction that others will eventually become tired of the monopolization sites such as Reddit facilitate, the lack of novelty, the uniformity, the conformity. Websites like Reddit, I believe, may be on their way out. Not all of them, of course, but certainly some of them, and in their place new and better websites will emerge. The recent affair with the Metaverse has caused many people to question how out-of-touch Mark Zuckerberg is, how fallible a tech conglomerate can be, how multiple terrible choices in marketing and research can lead to public ridicule. These are valuable realizations for anyone who would stifle the potential of the Internet, kill it with money or censorship or deliberate misinformation campaigns. The Internet cannot be wielded as a tool, either for the negative or the positive. The Internet is merely a neutral plateau of reckoning, an indifferent monolith of technological neutrality.
In the end, therefore, the truth will win out. And though I have perhaps seen more negativity in three years than most people are likely to witness in ten, merely because I am an eccentric individual who chooses to express myself openly, I understand that history will remember me for who I actually was, rather than who some random bigot online said I am. As long as the truth is maintained and lies are not allowed to manifest in the hearts of those who suffer their brunt, the Internet will be safe.
The beauty of reddit though, is the dedicated subreddits. Why get into a fight in main, when you can listen to the high quality debates in AskHistorians, or dabble in science utility in Futurology (ironically sometimes better in discussion than Science itself)?
No other platform allows you to keep out the highway and explore the side roads free from molestation like reddit does.
Agree, Reddit.com sucks. All bots and paid advertising spots. I don't use it anymore beyond the "good" subreddits that unfortunately don't have a good alternative elsewhere on the internet.
Or when I need opinions on something so I add "+ reddit" to my search query.
What upsets me is that Reddit makes *bank* but still can't afford a decent CDN that doesn't crash all the time.
Interestingly, I see more and more people waking up to this every day. Thus is the nature of constantly shifting goalposts, I suppose. Everyone will be a bigot eventually.
Sometimes, I feel people engage with online "debates" as if they were football fans talking about the opposite team
They do. And anything that pisses off the other side is good, simply because it pisses off the other side.
<resists the urge to post poorly concealed diatribe about a rumored online negativity vaccine>
Does it involve making physical contact with certain kinds of very common plant life?