By Mike Trapp
Stage 1: Experimentation
Illustration: Reddit alien holds out a pill with an upvote on one half and a downvote on the other. He looks excited and happy.
It started years ago when you were young and adventurous. It seemed like everyone you knew was using Reddit. You were curious. You heard about the crazy, fun times people had on it. Some even had spiritual experiences, claiming to have seen God (for what he really is -- a sociological illusion). But you also heard about the dangers -- the people who freaked out after seeing horrible images that would haunt them for the rest of their lives. When a blog you know and trust gives you a link, you finally try it out.
Stage 2: Regular Use
Illustration: Three or four very stoned reddit aliens sitting in a circle, smoking out of an upvote/downvote bong.
Yeah! That was great! Why not do it again? And again. It becomes part of your everyday routine: you come home from work, and you unwind with a “few uptokes of the Redd stuff.” It’s not like you need it or anything -- you’re just having a bit of fun. It’s a social thing! You connect with strangers online, and you send links to friends, and you all laugh together! You say it’s perfectly harmless, but things are a little different now from your first couple hits. You’re no longer just a lurker taking occasional hits -- you’re now “a Redditor.”
Stage 3: Risky Use/Abuse
Illustration: Distressed looking Reddit alien staring into a bathroom mirror. He has a bloody nose. He is using an upvote arrow to cut a few lines of downvotes.
Reddit has taken over other parts of your life. You ignore the other websites you cared about. These are websites you knew and loved since their birth -- now, they just get in the way. You’re moving at a different speed, man. The rest of the Internet can’t even keep up. You’re living on the cutting edge and, baby, this SHIT IS SHARP! YEAH! YOU DON’T NEED ANYTHING ELSE. REDDIT’S GOT A SUBREDDIT FOR EVERY THRILL. NAME YOUR DANGER, DARLING, I GOT THE URL YOU NEED!
It’s not just an after-work activity any more; you’re going cruising on the Upboat Waterways when you’re supposed to be working, studying, sleeping. You’re using the word “redditing” as if it’s a viable verb. You’ve changed yourself (or as you call it “enhanced” yourself) to get more Reddit into your system faster than ever before. You’re craving is insatiable. More content! Now! And it better be something new. Something better. Anyone who tries to cheat you with cheap, reposted product will feel a rage that can’t be contained in just four panels.
Stage 4: Dependency
Illustration: Haggard, gaunt looking reddit alien shooting an upvote into his arm. A used downvote lies on the ground next to him.
The rest of the Internet is forgotten. Those sites are mere pretenders, sad creatures living a false reality. 9Gag, Facebook, Tumblr -- how you hate them. Reddit is the Internet. Reddit is all.
You close your tab only to reopen it seconds later. Your NEED your sweet Karmal Kandy. If you’re without it for even a moment you start to through withdrawal. One post blurs into the next, as you numbly soak it in. The funny pictures don’t make you laugh. The AMAs don’t intrigue you. The TILs are facts you learned years ago. And still you scroll into infinity.
Your mind has changed. You speak your own language with your fellow junkies. You trust no sites from the outside (except your supplier, Imgur). Your birthday is forgotten, only your cake day remains. You believe your brain to be functioning at such a high level that you can know what the top comment on every post will be before opening it. And you award that commenter with an upvote. A little gift for being just like you. Just like you. Just. Like. You.
Stage 5: Wake Up Call
Illustration: Reddit alien looks in horror and confusion at the Reddit Alien prostitutes and junkies surrounding him.
After you fall long enough, you hit rock bottom, and the impact wakes you up. You look at your surroundings, at your company. Karma whores scream their offers at passersby, willing to do anything for a taste of an upvote. A ring of junkies jerk each other off to the delight of onlookers. Desperate souls scavenge the floor, fighting over puns that have been used, re-used, discarded and used again, certain they can squeeze just one last kick out of it. Typos are dragged away by grammar nazis, never to be seen again. Everywhere, dead horses lay rotting. And every day is a repost of the day before.
Once proud, you are suddenly horrified by your ability to predict top comments. You give them a downvote as you realize you are just like them. Just like them. Just. Like. Them.
Stage 6: Recovery
Illustration: Reddit alien in a polo shirt with a cup of coffee. The mug has grey arrows on hit. He’s smiling, but he has bags under his eyes. It’s clearly been a long struggle.
It’s been a struggle, but you’ve given up The Big R. You come crawling back to those websites you left. The ones you hurt. They’re different now. You narcissistically assumed that their lives had stopped when you left. But they’re still there - even a little better looking than you remembered.
You still have your moments of craving and confusion. “Why is this comment on top?” you wonder, before remembering you left upvotes and downvotes behind. This world functions differently. As time goes on, you feel like you need it less and less. You’re on your way back to normalcy. You’re even comfortable using the word “normalcy” confident that no grammar nazis will pop us to say “normality” is the preferred variant.
Stage 7: Relapse
Illustration: Deranged looking Reddit Alien lying in a huge pile of upvotes and downvotes.
OH GOD I’VE BEEN AWAY FOR DAYS! LOOK AT ALL THIS FRESH CONTENT!