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Finding Support Online

If used correctly, Reddit can be one of the most powerful support platforms on the Internet.

Picture credit: Pixabay.com

You might ask yourself, “Is this ok to post on Facebook?” or spend hours looking around online for the best forum to post your question. You might draft a text to a best friend or relative, only to hover over the send button and then delete it all. You might hesitate to bring an issue to your significant other in light of self-preservation or because the concern deals with the relationship itself. Sure, there are hundreds of forums online for everything these days, where you won’t have a problem submitting anonymously. However, responses will vary in timeliness and especially in quality, and perhaps there’s no one-size-fits-all website where you can get the support you need across various topics…

This is why I’m here to urge you to consider using Reddit. Not only does there exist hundreds, if not thousands, of topic-specific communities on the site — but you’ll have the opportunity to build a paper trail of your story in a post history that other users can reference to support you. It’s not for me, or some article or forum to tell you how to handle any given situation — but I believe in the overall kindness and selflessness that can be found on Reddit, and compilation of advice to be learned from. Whether it be specific to you, or advice you found in a search that was given to a complete stranger, the site archives an almost-endless amount of text from people supporting one another.

Below, you’ll find information on some helpful starting points in using Reddit’s support communities, and tips to get you set up.

Why Reddit?

To me, a genuine human connection makes us feel we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves. This is what we want as a people, and a trend that’s fortunately growing in online engagement. Collective wisdom, power of the group, and “the rising tide floats all boats” etc. etc.

Well, welcome to the world of Reddit, a site that’s as mainstream as Facebook and Twitter, but doesn’t have that same feel. Sure, it’s extremely barebones when it comes to the design and user experience, but I believe it has everything you need to create a positive, personalized online experience. It’s overwhelming until it’s not, at which point it becomes extremely intimate and personal. And what about the usernames and people commenting? With the Enhancement Suite this all becomes super easy to manage — we’ll get to that soon. (Tip: the comment sections on Reddit are 1000x better than the infamous hate and trolling you’ll find on YouTube, and typically the best place to start embracing Reddit.)

Did you know Reddit’s site traffic is above Wikipedia’s and the average time spent, 11:25 minutes, is the highest in America’s top 10 visited sites (via Alexa).

Useful Reddit communities

Trust when I say that this list below is only the tip of the iceberg. Or perhaps more accurate, a spec of ice on the tip of the iceberg, but nevertheless I’ve compiled a quick overview of some support communities on Reddit, here:

Hopefully this list gives you a solid starting point, and understanding foundation of the variety of communities (sub-Reddits) that can be found on the site. Whether it be emotional or behavioral assistance you’re seeking, I guarantee you the community exists on Reddit.

Keep your eye on the “Wiki” and FAQs on the right side of the screen when entering a new sub-Reddit to learn about the rules, history, and related communities. 🙂

How to use Reddit

First, you’ll want to make an account and new username. Whether or not it’s tied to your other online presences is up to you, but I recommend using a pseudonym. 

Pseudonymity allows you to be yourself. Generations today are growing up in a username-driven society — and these usernames allow us to be completely honest, instantly, outside of a Facebook-repercussion-type scenario.

Next, you’ll want to download the Reddit Enhancement Suite, which can be found here. It’ll help you build lists of your favorite communities, and highlight / follow “friends” and their responses, etc. It’s super useful.

In building a list of your favorite sub-Reddits, you might take the above bulleted list for example. Hovering over the “Subscribe” button, you’ll then have the chance to categorize it into a new “Multi” — something you might title Well-Being or Support. This is how I use Reddit to, in a way, create different sections of the site like those of a newspaper.

The Enhancement Suite also allows you to Collapse Comment Threads, which makes navigating for results and feedback infinitely more accessible.

The takeaway here is to embrace the pseudonymity of Reddit. Create a relevant (or not!) username, and you’ll soon have a feed of comments and created posts tied to your account — as well as karma “points” for creating, sharing, and discussing on the site. It lets other users know you’re for real, and not just lurking or sucking value out of the site, but actually contributing to the community in a healthy and beneficial way.

Takeaways

Reddit is a powerful community, and a sort of “front page of the internet” in a lot of ways. If you’re new to Reddit, spend a few hours clicking around and familiarizing yourself. Finding facts on current affairs and news (with amazing Live-coverage of events when something major occurs), streams for your sports games, and even support communities where you can post your questions and feelings in a safe space. It’s incredibly hyper-local and, if you look for long enough, you can find a community for literally anything.

Safety and security concerns? Don’t worry, engrained in Reddit’s core pillars is a structure to address everything happening on the site. From a dedicated Trust & Safety team to Community Management moderators, policies and regulations are in place to keep watch and keep users secure. 

To wrap up, Reddit feels in-the-moment, similar to how Snapchat drives authenticity. Security on this type channel will allow us to move away from sharing family vacation photos to connecting via real, meaningful experiences. The trend towards less-polished, more raw social media (Snapchat) is encouraging.

For more, I’ve written about the power of pseudonymity in online platforms after hearing from Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian at a community management conference in San Francisco. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like any support getting set up, or for a better understanding of the Reddit site and community.

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