I can’t go back to Reddit (or the Cycle of Cool)

For the first time in nearly 3 years I haven’t visited Reddit for 3 days. I can’t go back after realizing that Reddit has become little more than a propaganda/ advertising machine.

This is upsetting. As an information junkie, I adore Reddit, but that being said this isn’t my first flight from it. When I was younger I worried that anything I liked I was addicted to. This wasn’t the case, I simply had impulsive draws towards these things, like Reddit, Fallout 3, or Magic The Gathering. So I often ran from these things, in grand spectacle, making a show of going. I acted like I was the main character of a show, as many in their youth tend to emulate.

As I got older, and developed my self control muscles, these things held less sway over me. So I returned to things I loved.

This time I leave reddit simply because I discovered a grim truth. It’s little more than fluff. This is predictable, based off something I call the Cycle of Cool.

I am sure there is a more scientific name for this and I doubt I will be the first person to deal with the idea, yet here we are.

The COC starts when a novel thing is introduced in earnest. Sometimes its a website, a store, or a hobby. People flock to it craving something about it. I think it is the authenticity of it. For a small time it stays hidden, in hipster territory, eventually emigrating to the golden plains of popular. Sometimes it remains in this popular stage without getting bloated or corrupted, the Vlog Brothers are a good example of this, but more often that not, the thing begins to phase out the more divisive elements of itself.

First, the barrier to entry is effectively lower, and the specificity of the thing is disregarded, or to put it another way, the Vanilla stripe in the Neapolitan becomes markedly larger.

Next comes, the influx of capital. Living in a capitalist economic structure, the monetisation of popular things is near inevitable. Adverts pop up among the thing, and people begin to seek ways to eek a living out of it. This churning of the waters eventually attracts big fish, who buy the whole thing out, and often gut the heart out of it.

Those who were true to the original begin to leave, their passage is quiet, trickling, and decided. While the site might bloat and continue to grow, it grows without those people who loved it for what it was. Those people, march on, through the wastes of the new in search of a new promised land, in search of the next cool patch of ground.

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