I like to go to reddit to get a feel for the zeitgeist, since that is where, in my estimate, Millennials go to speak their minds. It is one of the Internet’s top sites (in terms of traffic) and is the only site in the ‘discussion forum’ format to reach the traffic rankings of popular social media platforms and search engines.
Reddit’s system of upvoting and downvoting posts causes popular opinions to percolate to the top of the comments, and unpopular ones to be suppressed. In this way a consensus will be reached on the topic of a thread – a phenomenon known as the “reddit hivemind.”
Users register under pseudonyms, disguising their real-world identity, which for a young generation used to intensive scrutiny of their online life, means more freedom to speak openly (one side-effect of this is that conversations often drift into topics that might be described as ‘not fit for polite company’). And heavy modding to expurgate abusive posts makes the site something of a safe-space.
With these considerations, I will occasionally post about a reddit thread which I think is particularly interesting, amusing, or relevant. This week’s thread relates to this weekend’s incidents of protest and violence in Virginia:
The 2017 KKK Starter Pack
You can see this post is making fun of Friday night’s torchlight march in Charlottesville by white nationalists – all young, preppy looking men who could hardly be from an oppressed minority, but apparently think that they are. Further links and comments in the post develop this theme. The image of the “starter pack” (see below) suggests a partisan group of reactionary and unimaginative people who just want to gather together with their own kind.
In fact, Trump-supporting Millennials on reddit do have a safe-space – a “subreddit” (like a discussion category) where they can enjoy their own alternate hivemind. Here is a post about media coverage of the deadly violence which ensued the next day, where you can see that they do indeed feel like an embattled minority.
But don’t they know that it is absurd for men to march, waving swastika flags and shouting ‘Heil Trump!’ in 2017 America? Yet there it is to be seen, in the videos of the Charlottesville protests which are amply available online. Emboldened by their capture of the Presidency, white nationalists are goading their opponents and raising the stakes in the battle for this country’s future.
But listen to the hivemind: they are on the losing side in the long run. Their chosen messiah is so mindbogglingly incompetent that we may just be witnessing their last gasp of self-destruction. That is certainly my hope, and I hope white nationalism expires with as little more violence as possible.