CR/LF Max Arturo's Various Thoughts

I've quit reddit - and why

I have quit reddit for good.

Now that there, my poor readers, is an ill-fitting, convoluted statement. It sounds wrong and labyrinthian, begging for an explanation in the sense that saying “I’ve quit cars” makes the listener curious as to how one will continue moving around town.

Why did I quit? I had already decided that I was spending far too much time perusing the site and had meant to do more meaningful things with my time than, say, looking at slapstick GIFs compulsively. However, I think it was really the compulsive behavior that made me convinced of the decision: I had caught myself, more often than not, craving a look at the site just to make the time go by faster - or so I thought. It seemed to fill in the gaps between the rest of my other “large” activities in the day, and then even some within them (aka work, etc). I did not enjoy my compulsive behavior, and felt like I would ultimately gain time back in my life. I’ll take my chances with compulsive book reading.

Here’s how you do it. In layman terms, it is simple - you stop submitting HTTP GET requests to that page and stop consuming its content. But “Quitting” a website is a very unique thing - it’s truly an artifact of the age we live in. It is very unlike trying to quit any other addiction or so-called “vice”, and yet surprisingly similar. Here’s how it went down.

The recent site’s schism (pardon the non-link) gave me an opportunity to break my cycle of continuously looking at the mobile app for new content, and I took it as a Universally-apportioned sign to quit. From there on, it was a learning experience to define for myself what “accessing” reddit content really meant. Here are some things I discovered while trying to avoid one of the most popular sites on the Internet.

  • There is no clear distinction between reddit and the rest of the internet. I think I may have misjudged the site’s popularity when I thought I could simply ignore any contents and stick to other sources of information. I had to become (more) suspicious of what things I clicked. I also had to start looking for news aggregators and other things that I had just simply forgotten about for the last what, seven years? One time, I innocently clicked on a seemingly-innocent link and it sucked up a large amount of my time without me realizing I was supposed to avoid reddit. It was a very discomforting loss of control.

  • You need an extension or script to keep you straight. Extensions like StayFocused (or you know, if you’re using eLinks throw in a regex there) make your life easy by protecting you from slips of consciousness. Most of them are very configurable and you can enable certain subdomains, which will neatly lead me into my next point.

  • You can’t actually avoid reddit without losing meaningful content. /r/programming has consistently provided me with a good, curated source of programming news that I can turn to. I knew I was going to lose this with my decision, but in the end I decided to make this one exception and close off the rest of the “reddit experience”. I was just losing too much goodness that I authentically feel enriching for my job/hobby. Now, you could take that argument and twist it in any way since there is such a large amount of quality content in the site, but that is how you end up with relapse.

All in all, it has been a refreshing experience. I find that most of the appeal of reaching for my phone at regular intervals has been lost (say apart from the occasional Hearthstone game), but that’s a battle for another day. It also doesn’t help that I inducted my wife into reddit back when we were dating, so I still get an indirect blast of reddit-generated content. But it’s alright - I just pretend she has a very popular friend with very interesting stories to tell.

Try it for a week - you can always go back. But you might find the results quite refreshing, as did I.