Reddit was born in 2005 but nerds existed before that. Obsessed with things 32/64-bit, I lurked AOL chatrooms and phpBB forums in the 90’s. Future Redditors also congregated there with primitive memes. Decades later, a culture of freaks and geeks are on top of the food chain. Silicon Valley, reeling from the dot-com bubble, made a comeback. Mobile and apps fundamentally alter how people communicate. Startups are perceived as innovators and the future.
Reddit is a powerhouse with oodles of cultural cachet. Heralded as the “first page of the Internet”, President Obama deemed an AMA essential during the election season and nicely verified its moniker. Two months later, Gawker exposes Reddit’s biggest troll and a vile practice called doxxing. It illustrates a male culture so empowered by the rise of the connected web that it begins stalking and harming women.
Patriarchal norms are alive and well. Sexism exists everywhere, as long as men believe they can get away with it. In a locker room, jocks pontificate on a cheerleader’s behind. On the web, Reddit geeks share upskirt photos of underage girls found on Facebook. Internet anonymity protects them from consequences. Kotaku, for instance, is a popular blog on things gamer-related. A recent comment regarding female protagonists elicited the following:
Misogyny is openly celebrated. Jokes about the kitchen are still rimshots of choice decades after Mad Men supposedly died out.
A few days ago, a game designer (male) asked on Twitter: “Why are there so few lady game creators?” A woman responded with the hashtag #1reasonwhy and ignited a heated conversation about the denigration plaguing the industry. Sexism permeates in stealth mode. Destructive filth goes on unfiltered, unaddressed, and anonymously as shown in the Kotaku comments above.
Since the Atari days, the phrase “I just got raped!1!!” commonly described Game Over. Such norms went mainstream, overlapping with nerd-infested tech industries now prominent. Slowly, this exposure is resulting in shock therapy.
Slovenly neckbeards are now vulnerable. Girls identify him as the one who coined “the friend-zone” and calls himself a “nice guy”. Douchebros are “owed” sex because they are so much smarter and more interesting than the “bad boys” women are apparently attracted to. CNN’s trouncing of Reddit doxxing and #1reasonwhy serve as a starting—and rallying—point to counter these immature buffoons.
As community managers, we are responsible for honest conversation on this controversial subject. Online communities became everyday life as it now includes internet privacy. Google affirmed this when they integrated real names into Youtube’s comment system, which was notorious for anonymous trolling. Hopefully, this is a mere start.
Not only a Kotaku or a Reddit issue, it is a human issue. When the term “rape” is used flippantly, women are denied jobs, and underage girls are threatened by male hackers, we must take action to move us forward.