One of the most cringeworthy places on the internet is a subreddit called RoastMe. Reddit, for those who don’t know, is a discussion website where users can post links, pictures or topics and other users vote them up or down. Threads, called ‘subreddits’ are organized by topics. On the RoastMe subreddit, users post their pictures and the redditors rip them apart savagely – RoastMe is one of the cruelest places on the internet.
At the beginning of February, a Russian teen posted his picture to the RoastMe subreddit. He titled his post “17 year old russian with crippling depression. Give me a reason to end it all.”
Instead of roasting him, the thread responded with a tremendous outpouring of love. The vast majority of the over 6,000 comments were in this vein.
And it worked… three days later, the boy posted another picture, this time with the caption “Thank you for all the support! Seeing complete strangers care about my situation really warmed my heart.”
The story went viral in part because it’s a reminder that, as toxic a place as the internet often is, it can be a place of beauty and community as well.
Let’s explore that tension. What is the difference between toxicity and community? The gap is smaller and more subtle than you probably think. The surprise is that it comes down to a choice we have when we face awkward encounters.
We all have the opportunity every day to choose to embody God’s kindness to the world.