Here to Make Friends: The New York City Reddit Meetup

by Myles Tanzer

The internet hive mind is scary. Geeks operating together as one Voltron-like force of good or evil is an intimidating kind of deal — and leaving the house, for some Internet people, is equally scary. But getting drunk and hanging out with members of the hive mind isn’t actually that bad! Saturday was World Reddit Meetup day, and, to observe, members of the Internet forum Reddit — a wholly owned subsidiary of Condé Nast Digital! — met up at 160 or so locations around the world, including d.b.a. in the East Village.

As cover, I went with my friend Nicole — she’s an actual Redditor. We were met by the event’s organizer, a burly New Jersey man who works on the Rutgers University Internet network. He told everyone about the heat other Redditors gave him for organizing this bar event while there was already a picnic event planned for Governors Island. (He just “wanted to get wasted.” Reasonable!)

A Californian clad in a LucasFilms t-shirt was the friendliest one at the table. He made sure to speak to everyone personally; he’s one of those people who’s insanely good at listening. He frequently jumped back into conversation by greeting everyone with a “Hi everybody” like Dr. Nick from The Simpsons.

Joe, a giggly long-haired James Franco look-a-like, works as a programmer for a small marketing firm down in SoHo and loves his new apartment in Brooklyn. Joe is an active member of r/trees (the popular subreddit centered around stoner culture, after r/Marijuana went south).

About three women came to this event, of the 30 or so people that showed up. (Reddit’s 4.1 million users each month are 86% male, according to Condé Nast.)

At one point, a 30-something Indian guy announced that he just had come back from India and had “brought some presents for the ladies.” Nicole was forced to choose which color of strange satchel she wanted (she choose purple).

Another guy, who was just out of Nicole’s hand-shaking-radius, loudly said, “It’s not that I can’t reach you, I don’t want to touch you.”

One of the young women in attendance came with her boyfriend, and she was way more into Reddit than he was. She’s active on r/gifts — where anonymous Redditors send gifts to each other, like an ongoing Secret Santa. She’s received a lot of stuff like “nice pens” and “vibrating cock rings” (both still unused and in their respective packagings).

Most of the talk was actually about Reddit: how addicting it is, how browsing it at work is tricky, how great it is. Our host summed it up nicely: “We can have inside jokes and someone would come up and ask how long we’ve known each other for. And I’d be like ‘nah we just met.’ It’s like the weirdest website ever.”

For a 30-way blind date, the conversation was surprisingly really good and no one’s really that nerdy if everyone else around them is too. It was darn near enjoyable! Nicole and I left in a good mood, and on the way out we shook hands with our new Internet pals. She reached across the table to shake with a nervous IT guy and he spilled his entire beer all over his lap. IRL lulz were certainly had at his expense.

Myles Tanzer goes outside sometimes.