Reddit bills itself as the front page of the internet. It seems that regardless of what kind of topic you're interested in, there will be a discussion of it on one of Reddit's thousands of message boards. Reddit is really just a combination of thousands of topic-specific message boards.
What's so awesome about Reddit is its wide topic coverage. There are no topics that are off limits. It also bills itself as an open space so, in terms of freedom of speech, people are given a wide leeway.
Now, with that said, it's not completely free. It is a private business. And as you probably already know, the US constitution only prohibits state actions that impinge on one's fundamental rights, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights. That's lawyer-speak for saying that only the government is controlled by the Bill of Rights.
For example, if you go into a government office and you start handing out pamphlets for your cult, depending on where you are and depending on the time and how you give out the pamphlets, you may have a lawsuit on your hands.
You may be able to sue the US government for infringing on your rights. It all depends on the time, the place, and the manner you were exercising those rights.
In fact, if you are in a public park and there is a free speech square there where people can go up on a soapbox and talk about anything under the sun, if a cop rolls up and says to you in the middle of your speech that you can't say what you're going to say, you might have a lawsuit on your hands. You might win.
Again, it all depends on the time, the manner, and the place that you're exercising your rights.
These are not unlimited. Obviously, you cannot yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater. There's no First Amendment protection for that.
Similarly, you can't lie about somebody and say that's your free speech – to lie about somebody. Libel laws still apply.
I raise that issue because a lot of people think that Reddit is a free speech zone. It isn't. It is a private company, so the First Amendment doesn't apply to it.
The good news is, Reddit is very open-minded and really tries to give people a wide latitude in the things they can and cannot say. However, there are limits.
For example, you can't go open a subreddit on hate speech and just spout out hate against certain groups of people. That's just not going to fly. And while you can do that in government spaces, your ability to do that on private spaces like Reddit is much narrower.
What's the point of all of this? Well, subreddits enable people interested in a wide range of topics to talk about their shared interests and exchange ideas. This makes subreddits very dynamic.
These forums track a wide range of people. Don't be surprised if you see posts made from people from Sri Lanka, Southern California, New York, the Philippines, India, and all points in between. It truly is a global experience.
Also, there's a lot of excitement, especially about certain subjects. But with that said, oftentimes, subreddit forums are more trouble than they are worth.
I know that's not a very popular opinion to have, but hear me out. You have to look at what usually goes on in these subreddits so you can see the context of my statement.
In fact, if you're aware of the factors that I'm going to raise below, you too might want to reconsider hanging out at subreddit forums.
I'm not saying that they're completely worthless, but you have to take whatever information you get from them about your favorite e-cig brand or e-juice manufacturer with a grain of salt. That's the best you can do.
Because if you were to believe everything that you read on subreddit, it's very likely that you will get only part of the story right. You're not looking at a complete lie, but let me tell you, a half-truth is the same a full lie.
Remember, to become a fully informed and empowered consumer, you have to have facts at your disposal. But if these facts are presented in a biased, slanted or distorted way, who knows whether you will be able to make quality decisions.
You have to understand that when people buy electronic cigarettes or e-cig accessories, they're actually investing in their lifestyle. These choices have a big impact on their health. Also, switching from brand to brand might lead to a few bucks saved or a few bucks lost.
But you shouldn't just focus on the number of dollars being saved or lost per transaction. Because when you look at the big picture, these dollars actually add up to a lot. If anything, you need to also pay attention to opportunity costs.
What if you're stuck with the right product or found the right product from Day 1? You would have saved a lot more money. You probably would have felt better about yourself and enjoyed a wide range of benefits that you're currently not enjoying because you're stuck with a bad decision.
So, what is so bad about subreddit forums? What's wrong about finding information about e-cigarettes on subreddit as compared to other forums?
The Ever-Present Danger of Paid Shills
A shill is somebody who is paid to broadcast a certain opinion. It would be nice if this person actually believes in that opinion, but nine times out of ten, shills are paid, spokesmen.
In other words, they couldn't care less about the things that they are saying. All they care about is the payday they will get when they say a certain message in a certain forum to produce a certain effect with a certain group of people. That's all they're about. It's all about the money.
And as you can well imagine, trying to get an honest discussion or exchange of ideas with paid shills is probably not going to work out. It's highly likely to be an exercise in futility because these people don't really have any skin in the game.
In fact, a lot of them work for marketing companies that get paid per post. They try to pass off certain posts as engaging in actual conversation, but if you really look at the meat and potatoes of what they said, they're not really saying anything.
It really is very frustrating because it's as if your community, with all its passions and all its curiosities and all its sincerity, is being undermined from within by people who are motivated by the wrong things.
These people are wrongly motivated because, to them, it's all about the money. And if they were paid to say something that can eventually have a negative effect on your health, don't be surprised if they're all too eager to say that. Because at the end of the day, it's all about getting paid.
Who doesn't like drama? I know I love my fair share of drama. That is why Game of Thrones exists and why Netflix is so hot.
But when it comes to online information so you can make better-informed consumer choices, the last thing you want is drama. And unfortunately, in the world of electronic cigarettes, it's not unheard of for brands to go out of their way to take down the competition.
Now, it's very easy to see if somebody bashed a competing brand. You can basically make up a lie, you can post fake screenshots, and people can pretty much see this a mile away.
It's the subtle or underhanded bashing that you really have to be careful about. The most common way this is done is through slightly unfavorable comparisons.
Now, the first time you do this, people are really not going to give you much attention because when people buy all sorts of products online, they usually check out online reviews. And most of these reviews already have multiple product comparisons, so this is not exactly breaking new ground. Most people have probably seen those charts before.
But if you see a pattern where the same unfavorable competition breakdown is presented by paid shills, all day every day, it becomes some sort of mantra. It becomes some sort of mental peanut butter that you can't shake off.
Now, a famous propagandist said that it doesn't really matter if something is a lie or is the truth. If you repeat it enough times, it becomes the truth.
Competitor takedowns are very damaging as far as overall consumer intelligence and knowledge levels are concerned because they tend to incentivize repetitions of inaccurate or biased information.
Fake Testimonials and Stories
Let me tell you, somebody can break out all sorts of charts and diagrams all day, every day, and persuade very few people. However, the moment that person starts telling something that sounds or reads like a personal story, people sit up and pay attention.
There's just something about testimonials that tend to grab our eyeballs and tug at our heartstrings. There's just something about these stories that really get under our skin and make us susceptible to information that we would normally have a healthy level of skepticism about.
Unfortunately, a lot of the stories on e-cig subreddit forums can't be trusted.
I know that's quite a claim to make, but when you look at the themes of these stories and the fact that these keep getting repeated over and over regarding certain brands and models, you can't help but be suspicious. It seems so artificial.
So, do yourself a big favor. You might be getting plagued by seemingly sympathetic stories. You might want to connect the dots, read between the lines, and use that old brain of yours because there may be a lot more going on behind the scenes.
You Get a Partial or Incomplete Picture
The problem with Reddit is, ultimately, there is an incentive to placate the audience. Because if you don't say something that everybody else pretty much agrees with, you're going to get a down vote.
Nobody likes a negative rating on Reddit. Nobody likes being unpopular. You don't want to be a nerd in high school. You don't want to be a social leper, so you basically go along to get along.
Now, the problem with this is that it tends to exaggerate lapses in understanding. There are always gaps in information.
And, unfortunately, the way people play e-cig subreddit forums is that these gaps tend to get exaggerated. They tend to get bigger because people are afraid that if they speak up and they say the truth or they say their version of the truth, people will be all too eager to pull them down.
That's why you really have to look at e-cig subreddit forums with the factors above in mind. Read everything with a grain of salt, and then some.