Reddit Place - The Best and Worst of the Internet
Reddit can be a strange place at times. The site, which calls itself "The front page of the Internet", has been home to some of the most beautiful and some of the most toxic behaviour in the online world. From encouraging fandoms to endorsing hate groups, Reddit can be a controversial place at times. Nowhere was this juxtaposition of the best and worst of the Internet been more apparent than in this year's r/place
r/place was first launched in 2017, as part of Reddit's annual April Fool's Day shenanigans. Simply put, r/place is a blank canvas. This blank canvas can be edited by users in the form of coloured pixels. The only catch is that you can only place a pixel every 5 minutes (or 20 if you are using an unverified account). This means that in order to create something meaningful, you need to work together with a team. Not only that, but you also need to work together with your team to maintain your art piece. At any moment, another team could try to take over your space on the board and replace it with something else. Take for example the history of Canada on r/place. Poor organisation on behalf of r/canada meant that they struggled to make a good looking maple leaf. Their issues only got worse when they were invaded by a team intent on turning the Canadian flag into a banana.
Similarly to 2017, r/place only ran for a limited amount of time. In 2017, the canvas was active for 72 hours. This year it was active for 5 days. Watching a timelapse of the canvas creates a bizarre, graffiti-like pulsating visual where flags and warped images weave in and out of one another. Take a look for yourself below (or you can have a peek at the archive of this year's events here):
r/place is both an interesting event socially and artistically. On the one hand it provides users a space to express themselves in a purely artistic form, on the other hand it can only be utilised to its full potential if you have a team and a solid plan of attack. This can go both ways. There are communities like r/onepiece and r/starwars who spent their time creating homages to their favourite shows and films. Similarly, there were teams more intent on destruction than on creation. Trolls from 4chan launched coordinated attacks to try and remove Trans and LGBTQ+ pride flags. Surprising wars were also started. The nation of Turkey went head to head with Canadian streamer xQc. Conversely, factions were also formed, such as the one between Spain and K-Pop group, BTS.
It's hard to gauge whether r/place is a social experiment or just a harmless bit of online fun. Regardless, r/place shows the immense power and sense of community between people on the Internet. It somehow manages to capture the Internet in all its hideousness and beauty simultaneously. We look forward to seeing what next year has to offer.