The Inside Story on How Reddit Was Created: 'I Wanted to Make the World Suck Less'


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Sep 09, 2023

4 min read


The Inside Story on How Reddit Was Created: 'I Wanted to Make the World Suck Less'

In the early days of the internet, two young entrepreneurs, Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman, came together to create a platform that would revolutionize online communities. They were inspired by two popular sites at the time - Delicious, a social bookmarking site, and Slashdot, a geek community focused on news and ideas. Combining the best aspects of these platforms, they set out to create Reddit.

Their journey began when they joined Y Combinator, a startup accelerator. With the support and guidance of YC, Ohanian and Huffman worked tirelessly on the first version of Reddit. Little did they know, Paul Graham, the founder of YC, linked to Reddit in a blog post, bringing in its first thousand visitors. This initial boost helped Reddit gain traction and set the stage for its future success.

But Reddit's early days were not without controversy. Ohanian and Huffman resorted to creating fake users and generating much of the site's content themselves. However, this deceptive strategy was short-lived, as the community quickly grew and genuine users began contributing their own content. Reddit became a platform for people to share their thoughts, ideas, and interests, fostering a sense of community and connection.

The Paradox of Self-Improvement

In the realm of self-improvement, there exists a paradox. Often, we believe that improving ourselves requires exertion, determination, and constant striving. However, author Anna Katharina Schaffner challenges this notion in her book, The Art of Self Improvement. She argues that true self-improvement is achieved not through resistance and effort, but through yielding, accepting, and letting go.

Schaffner draws inspiration from ancient philosophies such as Taoism, where suppleness is celebrated as a key quality. According to Lao-tzu, "A man is supple and weak when alive, but hard and stiff when dead." This concept of flexibility and adaptability is echoed in the teachings of psychologist Viktor Frankl, who emphasizes the importance of self-transcendence.

Self-transcendence, as Frankl explains, involves letting go of our preoccupation with ourselves and finding meaning in something beyond our own existence. By dedicating ourselves to external causes or the people we love, we paradoxically actualize ourselves. In other words, self-actualization is a byproduct of self-transcendence.

Schaffner suggests that we must look outside ourselves to find true meaning. By recognizing our insignificance in the grand scheme of things, we can release the burden of self-importance and focus on what truly matters. As Frankl aptly puts it, "Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it is essential that you do it."

Connecting the Dots

At first glance, the creation of Reddit and the paradox of self-improvement may seem unrelated. However, a closer examination reveals common threads that tie these two narratives together.

Both Reddit and self-improvement challenge traditional notions and offer alternative perspectives. Reddit disrupted the traditional model of online communities by empowering users to contribute and shape the platform. Similarly, the paradox of self-improvement challenges the idea that constant striving and effort are the only paths to personal growth.

Furthermore, both Reddit and self-improvement highlight the importance of community and connection. Reddit's success can be attributed to its ability to foster a sense of belonging and provide a platform for people to share their thoughts and experiences. Likewise, self-improvement is not solely an individual pursuit but is intertwined with our relationships and interactions with others.

Actionable Advice

Based on the insights gained from these two narratives, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Embrace collaboration: Like Ohanian and Huffman, seek opportunities to collaborate and combine ideas. By working together, you can create something greater than what you could achieve alone.
  • 2. Let go of self-importance: Recognize that your significance in the grand scheme of things is minimal. Instead of focusing solely on yourself, dedicate yourself to external causes or the people you love. By doing so, you will find fulfillment and self-actualization.
  • 3. Foster community and connection: Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who share your interests and values. Engage in meaningful conversations and contribute to communities that align with your passions. This sense of belonging will enhance your personal growth journey.

In conclusion, the stories of Reddit's creation and the paradox of self-improvement offer valuable insights and lessons. By understanding the power of collaboration, letting go of self-importance, and fostering community, we can embark on a journey of personal growth and make a positive impact in the world.

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