The advancement of technology has fundamentally changed the way we gather and communicate information. Ideas that were once slowly diffused by word of mouth or by printed media can now all be accessed at the speed of light from anywhere on the earth and by anyone with access to the internet. This allows like-minded individuals to find each other when it would otherwise be physically impossible to. There is no lack of spaces for people to discuss their interests whether it be movies, books, sports, or even racial or ethnic identity. One of the central themes of the course is to highlight issues within the realm of Asian American social justice and make visible the often forgotten or erased histories. It has never been easier at any other point in history to accomplish both of these goals and websites such as the Asian American subreddit show that the process has already started.
Reddit is part social media, content aggregator, and discussion site. Registered users can submit text posts of links to other websites and then other users vote these submissions up or down, with higher voted posts given more visibility on the front page. Reddit ranks as the eleventh most visited website in the US in 2016 which shows the potentially far reaching impact that this single website can hold. Within the main website, submissions are organized into specific interest groups called “subreddits”. Anyone can create and moderate their own subreddit.
The Asian American subreddit, /r/AsianAmerican, continues the discussion of issues within the Asian American community that has been ongoing since the first immigrant from Asia arrived in the United States such as citizenship, labor rights, and racialization. Any member of the subreddit can post links, videos, or articles which are shared instantly with the entire community. Not only that, users can also comment on those links and start further discussions. The subreddit diverges from previous conversations because members of the community no longer have to be in the same physical place in order to connect with one another. These online communities transcend physicality and geography. Any user with an internet connection can access these conversations in a public forum. However, one interesting thing to note with online spaces is the relative anonymity between users. While this allows anyone to speak their mind without fear of repercussions, discussions can also easily become very hateful and devolve into irrationality.
It may seem a daunting task to look for and screen through this influx of information and media when there are dozens of media outlets reporting on Asian American issues and hundreds of blogs writing articles on social issues, but reddit acts as a hub where information can be posted to, then subsequently voted on by users as to whether the information is relevant to the particular community. Reddit’s place in the online community has become increasingly important as the amount of content produced online increases every day. Because reddit is entirely community driven, the work of finding and filtering content is crowd-sourced to its users and so the community is in charge of deciding what’s important or relevant. With a subscriber base of over 12,000, the community has a wide audience and has the power to drive many discourses and discussions.