David Frum

11.21.12

Weird: Redditors Aren't Really That Interested in Politics!

Molly Redden has the scoop on this utterly unsurprising story:

Even at the height of the SOPA/PIPA campaign, the limits of Reddit’s activism were obvious. “Are you guys REALLY contacting your Senators?” asked IWorkForASenator. “Not from what I’m seeing.” Tellingly, most of the responses to the post were either entreaties for Redditors to do the actual work of making phone calls. For the organization of in-person anti-SOPA protests, Reddit largely relied on tech meetup groups and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

So politicos scoping out the usefulness of Reddit, take note. The past decade impressed upon us that the democratization of opinion afforded by the Internet can amount to very little when it’s not backed up by something tangible. Obama For America’s behemoth online network, for example, got its power from the thousands of canvassers and millions of small donors who utilized it to act offline. Such motivation is largely absent among Redditors. And without it, the date at which the Reddit click brigade will fail to attract notice, and their ire online will fail to make an impression on Capitol Hill, is fast approaching. Reddit has the potential to be a geek-friendly ALEC, or at least a petri dish for progressive legislation, but the response to Lofgren's appeal suggests a duller future for the site—as just another social platform where politicians half-heartedly engage with the public.