Cultures and Subcultures = Reddits and Subreddits = Mainstream and Niches

/b/ Alive, Now.

The digital culture on the Internet is so diverse throughout the various Web pages and online communities that one can approximate that there are undeniably more cultures on the World Wide Web than there are in the physical world. These cultures are the product of countless forms of online content from memes, to resurrections of songs, to raw and unfiltered anonymity, to online interviews. All of this content attracts various personalities from around the globe to create online communities of various cultures. As Mike Rugnetta puts it, these are “communities of practice” where each community has its own symbols and forms of speech and language to certain ideologies or beliefs. People understand one another.

In the article on DailyDot, Now 10 Years Old, 4chan is the Most Important Site You Never Visit, the creation of an anonymous community by founder Chris Poole has gone from the first message board named /b/, to 48 different niche boards. These communities have stemmed from the initial 4chan idea – that anonymity creates the most raw and unfiltered content on the Web. Communities posting things from guns, to anime porn, to the most disturbing photos on the internet can be found in these communities. Although the modern day internet user might find the content to be rather suggestive, Poole says that it allows for a lot of good to be done. Chris Poole admits in his TED Talk that animal abusers have been brought to justice and there has been other good things occurring in the 4chan world. In a platform where users cannot register, use anonymity to their advantage, or use the simple layout of the site, there have been many movements that have grown from 4chan. The ‘icanhazcheezburger’ cat turned into a multi-million dollar website. A resurrection of Rick Astley created the ‘RickRoll’ and ‘Rickrolling’, too. The users of 4chan even got Chris Poole to be nominated as Time’s Most Influential Person of 2008 by an open poll.

However, there were some movements that held 4chan in a negative light. Some of these could include the Google Swastika and the fake death of Steve Jobs, which affected the Apple stock to drop the same day. 4chan has also been referred to as the “Arkham Asylum on the Internet.”4chan isn’t the only website with a bit of a bad rep. Reddit has been hammered for its misogynistic vibe against having women participate on the site. Although other users and Reddit community retaliate against this, Reddit still holds a position for being somewhat of an online physical community. Users do register and are able to post whatever their hear desires. This environment allows other users to go an find out what is interesting online, as each posted item can be boosted up or down by other users. These users also have the power to create their own Subreddits, or subcategories. For instance, someone might post about Peruvian Funk Jazz Flute music in the ‘Music’ Subreddit, which creates a niche.

This is extremely important to internet culture. Whereas mainstream culture was once the big influence on our society, online capabilities have enabled these cultures to stem niche/sub cultures. This can be directly correlated to The Long Tail, as Chris Anderson calls it. Online communities allow people from all geographic regions of the world to congregate as a whole different sub-culture that otherwise wouldn’t be possible in the physical world, due to the ease of access of these communities through online portals. Although I am not very fluent with these online cultures, I must admit that I find them necessary to modern day society. I get the feeling without these online communities, a lot more people would be feeling alone, despite the posting of some anonymous content. People react. To further expand on the idea of The Long Tail being applied to various online cultures, we can see that there is a huge presence of mainstream cultures, but again, the niche/sub cultures still have a place for certain individuals.

As a surfer in New England, we are probably the farthest away from the typical surfer stereotypes. Nonetheless, we surfers still have our slang and lingos that we use in our online communities and out in the water. The ability to segment our interactions with like-minded people is definitely comforting and makes conversation more fun and interesting. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy getting into conversation about current events, physics, or the environment. To each his/her own. Whether anonymous or not, the ability to converse with others who understand a similar language with similar beliefs and ideologies allows for people to harness their inner interests, hobbies, and most important voices so that they can be heard. Even if it is 20 or 30 people in a subreddit for Albino Alligator Wrestling (doesn't exist), at least these people can discuss their experiences together, today, now.

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