Celebrity is tediously featureless. Real life is infinitely fascinating.
Time for a personal rant!
Reddit is an increasingly archaic, 00’s era social media platform that has stubbornly refused most incentives to modernize over the years, unlike other peer products of the aughts like Facebook and Twitter. Operating on slow, buggy hardware that most likely closely resembles its original server farms, it does not create nearly the news or outside interest as its competitors. But when it does break into the internet writ large, it is most likely due to its main Ask Me Anything feature.
Ask Me Anything, or the r/IAmA subreddit to use their lingo, schedules posts with sponsored scientists as well as big-name celebrities, politicians, activists, a Dr. Who actor, Bill Gates — it wouldn’t surprise me if Biden or Kamala make an appearance at some point. As the name implies, reddit users then throw them questions, like they’re entreating a senator doing a town hall. Naturally, these things are somewhat regulated akin to a live call-in radio show, with obnoxious jerks banned and so forth; if it’s someone like Gates, the odds of him literally being the one at the keyboard are pretty low. Still, it’s a good way for Big Important Lords And Masters to hold audience with the plebes.
That forum does not interest me because celebrities do not interest me. They are all, with the exception of people who did not want to get famous, amoral bastards who also somehow manage to be spectacularly boring people with no inner life. Don’t get me wrong, their cars and money and mansions are indeed pretty cool and, usually, they had to be very good at something to get to where they are; but still, the least interesting part of your typical private helicopter in LA or NY is the hollow man or woman in the back being ferried about what they want you to believe is Very Serious Business.
The most obvious faces of soulless celebrity are the Kardashians/Jenners, and the Paul brothers of YouTube; but really, there’s no difference between those people and other big-time actors, influencers, musicians, or politicians, other than the Kardashians’ and Pauls’ lack of talent at anything besides being celebrities. (Ok, one turned out to be pretty decent at fighting, but my point stands.) When I say that one of my greatest fears is becoming famous, I am not being facetious. To be so uninteresting is my version of hell on earth.
But what does interest me is the r/AMA subreddit.
While the big main IAmA platform has over 21 million users, this much smaller Ask Me Anything forum pulls in a relatively paltry 659 thousand. This is not where famous people or brands or influencers go. This is for private people who are not famous, or at least do not wish to be famous, and their stories are 1000% more intriguing. For instance, here’s a few of their top posts over the past month:
Besides the ad, are there any of these that you do not want to instantly click?
There’s no slick brand-awareness campaign here. No corporate shills. No plastic people demanding you bask in the glow of them and their carefully orchestrated “candid” Q&A. Just real people and their real lives. Even the two people who are genuinely news-worthy are clearly here and not IAmA because they do not want to deal with fame or generate clout.
Of course, I don’t mean to imply that these people are somehow saints. For example, this forum brought me to one of the most disturbing reddit posts I’ve ever seen.
A man says that his girlfriend was raped and beaten while he was deployed. So when he returned from a military tour of duty, he found and murdered the rapist. But the rapist’s innocent father tried to intervene with a shotgun, so the poster shot and killed him too. He says he served 12 years of a 23 year sentence.
He (if his story is true) proves how when we men are presented with the scenario of a sexual abuser, our first instinct is to kick the other guy’s ass. It also proves how our natural urge for eye-for-an-eye justice just makes it worse for the victims, such as this woman who lost her man for 12 years. Women who’ve been abused say that if their male partner attacks the perpetrator, it just means there’s one more violent male in their lives.
But all this proves the point that this guy will forever be more fascinating a person than John Cena, Vin Diesel, or that ultimate marker of celebrity cancer, James Corden. I take back what I said about the Kardashians — nobody on the planet is more useless, more of a marker of the decline of Western civilization, more prime of an example of empty fame and empty souls, than James goddamn Corden.
Moving on, here’s an AMA session with a 29 year old woman who gave birth at 13. Working in the Bronx, this is not exactly an alien story to me. Hers is a tragic story, obviously, but also one that seems to be ending well.
There’s also a post by someone who (tries to) treat pedophiles. There’s no link because I could not read it myself without wanting to go out like Mr. Double Homicide above on the person’s patients. That post, to put it mildly, would not be a featured chat on the gently celeb-friendly IAmA subreddit.
There’s also the AMA with someone who believes they died seven years ago. No, apparently they are not joking. Either they’re a ghost, or else they think everyone else is — I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. Here’s the link for one wild ride.
On a happier note, here’s a guy who won $40 mil in the lottery — and it’s not even one of those “and I somehow lost it all” cautionary tales. Ever want to ask questions of someone like that? Lots of people got the chance!
And finally, yes, here’s that child of the A-lister, and here’s the thing: I almost guarantee you that he is 100 times more interesting than his celebrity dad. He went so far as to only go by his mother’s maiden name to avoid the limelight. That makes him an actual real person and not one of these void, clinical psychopaths that we are supposed to focus our free time on. That makes his r/AMA post far more relatable and thought-inducing than his dad’s r/IAmA, if he’s ever done one.
I do not speak from jealousy here. I really, honestly am terrified of becoming a social media trending topic, or a clickable category on TMZ. Look, I’ll even freely admit that I absolutely do envy your typical celebrity’s money, as anyone would. But I’d rather come by it like Mr. $40 Million Man from above, and remain forever anonymous.
I’d rather literally talk about the weather with that one redditor above then try to carry a conversation with a Marvel movie actor. That doesn’t mean I hate the MCU. But I do remember that if I worked on a movie set, I’d always rather grab beers after with the people behind the camera than the ones in front of it!