Reddit Depresses Me


People are always telling me I should check Reddit for ethics issues and stories. I wish I could. Whenver I am on that site for any significant amount of time, I become despondent about the state of the ethical comprehension and commitment of the American public, begin to feel like King Canute trying to sweep back the tide, and want to pack it all in and lie in a gutter drinking Woolite. I don’t need more discouragement, thanks. There’s enough to read in the news and on social media to lead me that way already.

Almost invariably, what I read on Reddit shows either participants who have the ethics of zombies, or posted evidence of the rotten ethics pervading society by others. Yesterday some link on the site was producing a lot of traffic on Ethics Alarms, so I tried to trace the links back to find out which post here was drawing interest. I failed, but in the course of a half-hour of scrolling, found a parade of ethics horrors, including one popular tweet in which someone opined that since he had received his pandemic stimulus checks and more were coming, and because he had been vaccinated, he thought it was ridiculous that anyone would complain about President Biden “not having enough press conferences.”

Now there’s a responsible voter: as long as the government sends money, that’s all that matters.

Worse, I saw this alarming text exchange:

Chair exchange

My revulsion at such things means I am “privileged,” I suppose. I don’t spend much time with idiots, bigots, sociopaths and ignoramuses. Part of that is because I was fortunate enough to be raised by two ethical parents (well, one ethical parent and my mother) in a community that encouraged ethical values and American core ideals, and part was my choice. I don’t have a lot of patience with stupid people, biased people, and badly educated people, and none at all with socially irresponsible people, so I choose to avoid them as much as possible. In that I have been remarkably successful. Unfortunately, it means that I am not as familiar with the realities of American society as I probably should be.

Fortunately, it keeps me from stuffing my head into the shredder.

22 thoughts on “Reddit Depresses Me

  1. That way goes pain. Reddit is a great place for terrible ethics stories, but not positive ones. You have enough terrible ethics stories to write about without delving into its dark corners.

  2. “Half the world’s below the fiftieth percentile, Bill.” — Br. Edmund, FMS, in junior year English class, Christopher Columbus High School, Miami, Florida, circa 1967

        • You suppose George would be cancelled if he were still alive? That’s an interesting question. I’d say Bill Maher fills the Carlin slot these days. Not as brilliant or funny, but sometimes contrarian. Irish Catholic like Carlin, but a Jewish mother, which is good for business in the entertainment world. (Only 5’8” tall! Yikes!) But George would probably be crafty enough and choose his spots and stay out there if he wanted to. But he’d probably just have retired and worked with younger comics behind the scenes. Be a mentor. Mooted by the Grim Reaper. I saw him live once. Laughed so much my face hurt. Much like the time I saw Robin Williams live. And Dennis Miller. What ever happened to Dennis Miller anyway?

  3. Is it racist to think the person desiring the chair is a person of color? Or is one to assume the uncolored person appropriating language of color is the racist?

    • You could answer those questions for yourself. A bit of introspection and reading to identify your racial biases, and then some language study to help refine just what you mean by ‘language of color’. I’d recommend you read some of John McWhorter’s stuff; he’s pretty good in both areas.

        • Ah, that’s the other Johnny, both wiser and funnier, and sadly missed.
          I took your first question as indicating you thought race was important to the Reddit exchange. Why would race matter?
          That second one, well, language usage varies from place to place, group to group, person to person, but if there is a ‘language of color’, I sure don’t know what it is, and I would have to ask, ‘What color is that?’

          • Surely you jest. “Bitch. Shut up. You wouldn’t know I need a chair to sit, bitch. Give me the chair.” Ukrainian? Italian American? South Asian American? Gee, Johnny, I really can’t tell. Hip Hop slang doesn’t call everyone a bitch to demean them in a homophobic way?

            • Why would race matter? What a dumb question. It’s all that matters these days. “If there’s a language ‘of color’ I sure don’t know what it is.” Are you kidding me? Ebonics? Rap? Patois? Ghetto? I’d call you a jive ass cracker motherfucker, but that would be appropriation, right? None of that exists? Well all right then. We’ll all speak the King’s English then. How’s that for White supremacy?

              • Of course race matters, but the ethical issue brought up here did not involve race and there’s no need to inject it into the situation.

            • My point is that not all persons of color (whoever that term encompasses) use such language and that some persons not of color (or, ‘uncolored’, as you put it) do use that language.

  4. I’m either like you and avoid such people like the plague, or there isn’t many and they are still rare enough for most to avoid. I hope for the latter. I’ve never encountered such callous behavior in real life. Actually imo people are generally helpful.

  5. EA is the ONLY publication where I even dare to delve into the “comments.” (And Althouse on occasion.) Have you ever read comments on CNN articles or the like? It’s horrifying. The second comment is usually, “I know you are, but what am I.”

  6. I spend too much time on Reddit. There are some great subs but way too many that are reflections of the worst in people. My wife just laughs at me when I say I try to point out major reasoning flaws and get massively downvoted. There is generally better responsiveness on more niche subs but this is not universal. My city’s sub skews way left. My country’s sub skews right. Both can have issues though when pointing our the unethical nature of some of the discussion re: government policy or decisions. But the city one is worse in my anecdotal experience.

    People use social media mostly for affirmation, not for growth or betterment. Reddit is like FB or IG just with a different format re: mostly without friends/subscribers. Reddit pushes free speech more than the mainstream platforms but is definitely tightening on that front.

  7. I subscribe to half-a-dozen subreddits that relate to “arts” ranging from Western movies to opera. A weird commonality is that they all to be populated by teens, then out of nowhere one of them will drop something about seeing Pavarotti in 1976. It happens too often to be falsifications, just seems to be people who are remarkably immature for their age and interests.

  8. Holy cow!…..”well, one ethical parent and my mother” (!!!!!). I’ve only been reading this site for about 5 months, and can’t say I’ve read everything, so maybe I missed some in-joke about you’re mother, Jack? Otherwise this comes across as crazy mean…or is there a reason to publicly call your own mother unethical?!


    • I’ve explained here many times: my mother, raised in a very poor Greek family during the depression, had two constants: survival, and family. She believed that the ends justified the means, and that anything short of outright lawbreaking could be justified. She was a great mom, but my father was the ethical and moral teacher in our home.

      Real quote: “I don’t know where this honesty stuff came from, but it sure wasn’t from my side of the family!”

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