Sunday, May 01, 2016


My time online is split between Facebook and Reddit (the latter being a jumping-off point for who knows where).
If you're not a Redditor, good for you: it's an enormous time-sink. If you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, this video explains the site much better than I can, and just might turn you into a Redditor too. Suffice it to say that its slogan -- "The Front Page Of the Internet" -- is just a tease of what Reddit actually is.

The place has its downsides. The biggest one, as far as I am concerned, is the downvote button.
Reddit comments are supposed to be upvoted (made more visible) if they contribute to the discussion and downvoted if they don't. That's almost never what happens. Usually people downvote stuff they don't like, and much of the time you don't even find out why. Since the Reddit userbase skews young, any post espousing a conservative, religious, or establishment viewpoint (outside subforums devoted to conservatism, religion, or establishmentarianism) tend to be ruthlessly downvoted. So you get a 'hivemind' and those who oppose it are ostracized.

High school, in other words.

You get points ("karma", inexplicably NOT called "cReddits") when your links or comments are upvoted, and lose those points if they're downvoted. After seven years, my comment karma is sitting at 47000 and change; I only have 380 in link karma. Those numbers, particularly the link karma, are very low for someone who has been on the site as long as I have. That's because I don't submit very much content. I've started putting up some of these blogs...doing so pulls in readers like you wouldn't believe. But it's a tricky business: there's no telling how total strangers will react to things I've written.

I admit to keeping half an eye on my comment karma. It's always nice to know people agree with you, or at least think you've contributed something substantive to the topic at hand.

Some of the tricks to getting massively upvoted:

  • get in on any thread early. The earlier the better. 
  • Piggyback off an already highly voted comment.
  • keep your comment short: Reddit has no attention span.
  • Refer to famous or infamous content (this is called 'going meta').
  • Pun, if appropriate (and sometimes even if not). 
  • Or, if you're really good, put a kick-ass post together that is nicely formatted (avoid the 'wall of text' at all costs) and answers a question in a cogent, entertaining way. 
  • DON'T be controversial, or at least, know when you can get away with voicing an opinion contrary to the hivemind and when you can't. 
There is often no telling what will catch Reddit's fancy in any given moment. I've put many a post out there expecting huge upvotes and gotten nothing, or even downvotes; at other times I've stated some innocuous comment that shouldn't even attract attention and gotten a few hundred upvotes out of it. 

Downvotes don't bother me. They certainly don't make me change my mind, not unless they are accompanied with an explanation that makes sense (and many people just reflexively hit that downvote button and move on). 

Sometimes the mere fact of the downvotes is telling. Some of the most disliked posts of mine on Reddit have had to do with my attitudes on love, most notably that love MAKES someone beautiful while (physical) beauty alone doesn't make someone loveable. Physical appearance doesn't matter very much to me at all. Oh, how people hate to hear that: along with the downvotes I get comments questioning my sexuality and insisting I am the most "beta" male in the history of males. 

Big whup. I've had family question my sexuality, not quite to my face. I'll put it to rest here once and for all, I'm straight...and given enough emotional attachment, I can be slightly bent. I'm a strong gay ally, but that comes from having kith and kin who are very much gay, also from having been treated as if I was gay myself, growing up...something that still persists in the anonymity of the Internet, where people don't actually know me.

As for 'beta' male: I claim that particular label with pride!

I've yet to meet a self-described alpha male I could stomach for more than ten minutes. They're the ones who treat women as receptacles, for one thing; they always seem like they're just about to explode, for another; and for a third, their interests (guns and cars and women they've raped or are planning on raping head the list)...yeah. I'll be a gay as a cock-flavoured lollipop if it'll keep those people away from me. (And it will: just a little spritz of camp is excellent alpha-male repellent.)


Anyway. That kind of derailed. Downvotes. I was talking about downvotes. Sometimes, a barrage of downvotes makes for good blogfodder.


The NHL just held its draft lottery (pardon me for a minute: LEAFS WON! THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS WON SOMETHING!...there, that felt good). 

Don't worry, this is only on hockey for a minute.

It wasn't a given that Toronto would select first overall; in fact, before they won the right to do so, their most likely destiny was to pick fourth. Mock drafts this year tend to have a player named Jesse Puljujärvi slated fourth overall. Some wit on the Leaf subreddit referred to him as "Pool Party" and it stuck.

This really rubbed me the wrong way. "Puljujärvi" isn't even that hard to pronounce: in Finnish, Js are pronounced like English Ys, and that umlaut yields a short vowel sound that's slightly elongated: YESse POhlyuhyaarvee. "Pool Party" just sounds disrespectful to me. Can't we call people by their names? Hell, drop the umlaut if you want to...many people don't know how to type one. Just don't call a human being "Pool Party". 

Well, downvote me to hell and set me on fire. Apparently I'm a (pool) party pooper who can't accept nicknames. 

Um, no.

A nickname is complimentary. Hockey nicknames: "The Great One" (Gretzky, of course)..."The Great 8"--Alexander Ovechkin, whom I'm hoping will win the Stanley Cup this year). Or nicknames are quirky...take mine, "Macaw", so coined by my father when I was two because "all I ever did was squawk and shit". I still go by that one 42 years later.

"Pool Party"...well, I'll grant you it doesn't sound offensive. Who doesn't like a pool party? It's just when you realize that the guy's actual name is Puljujärvi that it gets a little bit...racist.

Yes, I said racist. Maybe that's not quite the right word, but "Pool Party" in this case is closer to a racial slur than it is to a nickname.  "Hey, Pool Party! I can't be bothered to learn what your name is, because it's too goddamn foreign, so I'm going to use some English words I know how to say instead. And that will be your NAME! That will be the thing I call you by, from now until your career is over!  

I'm betting Jesse will laugh off the moniker bestowed upon him. I'm also betting that deep inside, each time he's called "Pool Party", he'll wince and grimace a little.  

Here's another instance of a nickname that's not a nickname at all...also from hockey. You've heard of Sidney Crosby, right? Plays for the Pittsburgh, like "Super" Mario Lemieux before him.  Guess what he's called?

Well, yeah, he used to be called Sid the Kid, and you used to hear him called 'The Next One" before he proved to be just that. And among his teammates, he's called "Creature", because of his superhuman lower body strength. But the epithet I most often hear applied to Sidney Crosby is...wait for it...."Cindy".

Misogyny? Homophobia? Both? So much misplaced hate in five little letters. Strong women of my acquaintance (and pretty much all the women of my acquaintance are strong) may wonder what's so bad about being called a girl's name. Nothing at all, says this man, but remember, this man is a proud beta. To an alpha male (and the sporting life is full of them, which is one good reason I don't play sports) the only thing more lame and weak than a girl is that special breed of girly-man known as a "faggot". And believe you me, that's another of Sidney Crosby's "nicknames". That may be the only thing Mr. Crosby and I have in common.

Am I being too sensitive? Too...girly? I don't give a shit. Names are defining. They are words of power. Like all words, they should be chosen with care and applied without rancour. Some guy comes from a foreign country where they have dots over some of their letters and he won't do you a favour and change his last name? Fine: learn how he pronounces it and call him that. Somebody plays hockey ten thousand times better than you ever did or will?

Yeah, you go on and call him a girl. Because the girls can outplay you, too.

Downvote away.

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