When I was first introduced to Reddit several years ago, I had one thing to say:
“What the hell is this?”
After spending years of my life Reddit-less, I decided to give it a shot just a couple of months ago. At first, I saw Reddit as a marketing opportunity: I knew there were dedicated, interactive communities that I could share my writing with in order to start conversations and receive constructive feedback.
And, after a few posted articles with some great — and, truthfully, some not so great—feedback, something appeared to the right of the Reddit front page that intrigued me:
Trick or Treat? Hm, I thought to myself. Now that I live in New York City, I don’t have much of a chance to go out Trick or Treating. Let’s see what this is all about.
Soon enough, I was signed up and ready to participate in the Reddit Trick or Treat 2013 exchange. While I anxiously awaited to hear who my “match” — the person for whom I would be purchasing a gift—would be, I decided to further investigate what these exchanges were all about.
To my enjoyment, it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. Here, taken directly from the redditgifts About page, is an explanation for why Reddit hosts these exchanges:
“We’re in the business of creating happiness. Science has proven that money can buy happiness, but only when you’re buying a gift for someone else.”
And, here’s more, written by a redditgifts participant:
“redditgifts is a group of total strangers from all over the world who have managed to form a community held together by one thing—being thoughtful and generous to one another. It’s amazing that a group of people who have never met each other, and probably never will, can come together to form such a strong, connected community. Being a part of redditgifts is being a part of something huge and magical. If Santa were real, he’d be jealous.”
After only a day, I received my “match” for the Trick or Treat exchange. Because Reddit encourages every participant to fill out a short bio in order to create more accurate gift-giving, I was able to see right away what my match was interested in. In a matter of minutes, I had the perfect gift picked out: a Batman graphic novel titled “Haunted Night,” combining his love of comics with the theme of the exchange.
While sending a gift to a stranger made me feel good about myself, I still didn’t feel connected. Several days later, all of that changed: I received my gift from another user, which can all be seen here.
It was a really personal—they included a Celtics decal and a note card with my username and favorite sports teams on it—and completely awesome gift, which was both surprising and touching. She took the time to really research what I cared about and included it, but she also included some of the things that interested her.
I felt connected to someone, even if just a bit superficially, that I’d never met in my life.
Last night, I received my match for Reddit Secret Santa 2013. Naturally, I’ve been brainstorming ever since about what to get this person. Something Christmas-y? Something that relates directly to one of her interests? Or, what about something naughty (no, not that naughty) and something nice? Decisions, decisions…
In the meantime, though, I received an email this morning from the person who received me as a match:
[Your gift] has been purchased and hopefully the marketplace sends it to you swiftly :)
Just like that, Reddit has connected two people who have never before met, even if for only a moment. In a world where social media, technology, and innovations in travel have worked so hard to connect everyone, sometimes all it takes is something nice to bring two people together.