“Come for the cats, stay for the empathy”

The CEO of ‘the front page of the internet’ summarises why the social news and media aggregation platform Reddit.com  is the 7th most visited website in the world.


Snoo the alien, the Reddit mascot.

Images and videos of cats make up some of the most viewed content on the internet. So, saying that people come for the cats, is actually a good way to describe how many discovers Reddit.

What about the empathy? Can’t say the internet is known for having empathic discussions. But evidently, Reddit does this rather well.

Share, vote, discuss.

The main pillars of the site are what facilitates the empathy Steve Huffman, Reddit CEO, talks about.

The three pillars of Reddit.

  • Share – Anyone can create a community on nearly any topic, which is then moderated by volunteers.
  • Vote – The global community votes which stories/discussions are important by up/downvoting.
  • Discuss – ‘Redditors’, the users, can comment on any post.

That’s where the empathy comes in. In the comments.

That’s where users from across the globe can create an understanding of each other’s situations and perspectives.

Here’s a great example of just that:

Non-American Redditors, what one thing about American culture would you like to have explained to you?” was the question posed in the most subscribed subreddit on the site, Askreddit.

Just like on the rest of the site, people can share anything they want. The Askreddit subreddit is dedicated to asking the global community questions, hence the name.

To be fair, this is (from experience), one of the better examples out there. Just like everywhere else on the internet, there are trolls, there are narrow-minded people.

But, as Mr Huffman says, it’s representative.

I think what’s really cool about Reddit. In its purest form, is it is a reflection of humanity.

I have to agree. There are so, so many perspectives to discover and understand. And over time, users develop empathy towards each other.

So when I say ‘come for the cats, stay for the empathy,’ part of that empathy is being exposed to viewpoints that are different from your own. I think that’s one of the powerful things that Reddit does, is that it gives you a glimpse into other people’s perspectives.

The CEO hits the nail on the head. This is the reason I truly enjoy spending time on the site. I can get an Australian’s perspective on global warming, I can get a Brazilian’s opinion on the coffee he drank while visiting relatives in Colombia. Is Sweden actually overrun by muslims?

Be careful though, people’s perspectives are highly subjective and NOT necessarily the truth. At the same time, that’s also why Reddit is such an interesting space. It makes you think.

“Why is this person’s perspective like this, when clearly, this is how it is?”

You might not agree with someone because you think differently, but you may realise why they think in a certain way.

Users can be themselves, learn about the world and be entertained by the content created and shared by the global community.

YOU can also be part of the global community! Will you stay for the empathy, or the cats?


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