Viau’s View/Scott Viau

You know what the Internet’s really nice for? Aggregating news. You can set Google alerts for anything you want. You have Twitter that will feed you information about any topic you could possibly think of. Facebook keeps you up to date on what your friends are doing. But there’s one site that’s miles above all of those: Reddit. Much like other social networks, Reddit is made up of millions of people who share what they’re interested in, questions they might have, breaking news and funny pictures (majority of which features cats). It’s really anything you could want with one thing other forms of social media don’t allow you to have – anonymity.

While Reddit is made up of millions of people, they’re all strangers. Anonymity is key to a place where illegal confessions can be laid bare and embarrassing questions can be posed. You are not strange on Reddit – you are merely one in a community of millions. But with that anonymity, there is deceit. Things must always be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. Let us not forget this is the internet.

While I enjoy distractions like cat videos and memes, Reddit is an incredible source of news. I have lost count of the times I’ve seen a story break on Reddit that is later picked up by major news outlets. But this lightning speed delivery isn’t without its faults. Reddit is attributed as helping spread false information about the identity of the Boston bomber, falsely implicating an innocent person. It’s best to hold off on spreading something if there isn’t a reliable source.

For those who like a bit of history, I urge you to type in Reddit.com/r/historyporn in your browser. Don’t worry, you won’t have to make sure the kids aren’t in the room. You’ll get thousands, maybe tens of thousands (I don’t know. It might go on forever.) of links to pictures of the past. Want to see the line outside of the first McDonald’s in the Soviet Union? I just saw it last night. Let’s just say they couldn’t wait to wrap their lips around a Big Mac. Want to see how Times Square looked in the ’50s? It’s there. Some users have even tried their hand at colorizing pictures, which helps make the world look not as dreary and drab as we might think.

Oh, there are also subreddits (categories) where you can watch fatal car accidents, executions, beheadings and other forms of tragedy. I admit I’ve clicked on a couple car accidents but I don’t have the stomach for beheadings. Or at least slow ones. These videos are hard to watch, but I think it’s important they’re out there. It’s one thing to hear of a bomb exploding in Afghanistan, it’s quite another to see it. It puts a human face on a tragedy and shakes us out of complacency. I can definitely say that after a few videos of car accidents, I’ve been a hell of a lot more cautious on the road.

There’s really something for everybody.

Reddit also hosts AMAs, (Ask Me Anything), where either a celebrity or a person of interest will allow users to throw questions at them. While it’s cool when a celebrity like Jerry Seinfeld or Tom Hanks shows up (both just happened recently), a lot of the really interesting AMAs come from regular people. The most popular one I can think of is the guy that had two, well, members and the pictures to prove it. I think I’ll get letters if I delve in too deeply, but needless to say, he was very interesting. Just the other day a man who was in a coma allowed people to ask him questions. What makes Reddit so fascinating is that we find how much we all have in common with one another, in both personality and interest, and yet we are all so different.

So if you’ve got an internet connection I urge you to take a few seconds to look around the website. What harm could that do? It’s not like you’re going to want to start posting stuff of your own