I’m fascinated with the Youngstown subreddit.
Do a Google search of “Reddit Youngstown,” and the first result you’ll find is a link to a community interested in all-things-Youngstown, users who love reading stories and sharing information about our region.
A subreddit is merely a forum for a specific topic on Reddit.
You’ll know you’re in a subreddit when “/r/” is in the web address. So, for the Youngstown subreddit, the web address is www.reddit.com/r/Youngstown.
There are subreddits for just about any topic you can imagine. Health. Jobs. Trump. Top subreddits focus on topics such as “science,” “worldnews,” “todayilearned,” and the most popular forum, “funny.”
Youngstown’s subreddit has more than 1,400 members. Posts from visitors to the region ask about parks and hiking trails, shopping and restaurants, concert venues and other entertainment, and community members respond.
Some members share links to and comment on stories from local media, such as The Vindicator.
The first post you’ll find on most subreddits is from a forum moderator.
“This thread is meant to discuss events happening this week in the Youngstown area as well as any other general discussion topics regarding the city,” the Youngstown subreddit reads. “If you have an event you would like to promote, you are encouraged to comment about it on this thread. Make sure to include important details such as date, time and location.”
Moderators of Youngstown’s subreddit are also guides, ensuring the content we find fits the purpose of the forum.
Moderators help members, cautioning those who create posts with missing information. They might also remove content that inappropriate for the forum.
A word of caution for new Reddit users: Searching the word “Youngstown” in the Reddit search engine will provide you with a more eclectic collection of posts and forums, and some content you may not want to see.
When you create your account, set filters for your news feed. Otherwise you’re bound to see adult-related material. Reddit defines these kinds of posts as NSFW (not safe for work) content. Of course, Reddit could easily expand that definition to “not safe for home” or “not safe anywhere,” but I digress.
Want to shut off adult posts?
When you set up a Reddit account, click on your profile name and select user settings. From there, you’ll find a menu of options for managing your account, including “feed settings.” If you want to avoid the adult post, shut off “adult content.” This will eliminate some (but not all) of the seedy posts.
When I posted my own question about this column, it was a moderator who replied almost immediately, although plenty of community members posted their reasons for being active subreddit users.
Many of them simply encouraged readers to join.
Watching over an online community requires a good, patient moderator. In the case of a Reddit group, this often means the community needs more than one moderator.
When I posted a query to the Youngstown subreddit community about this column, two local moderators were the first to reply.
Meet Zach Perkins and Zack Ziegler, two of Youngstown subreddit’s dedicated moderators. They come from slightly different backgrounds, but the one thing they have in common is their passion for Youngstown.
I asked about what keeps him interested in the community. Perkins, a senior at Cardinal Mooney High School, noted that the subreddit is one of Youngstown’s largest online communities for discussions related to the area.
What really interests him is the positive nature of those discussions.
“Even if community members have different political beliefs, they usually don’t attack each other too harshly but have civil arguments instead,” Perkins said.
Ziegler, a freelance graphic designer and Austintown-Fitch graduate, believes subreddit members do a great job of posting information about the area from a variety of sources.
“There’s content from media outlets like CNBC, the Business Journal, and of course, The Vindicator,” Ziegler said. “There’s also plenty of original content in the form of photos, memories, questions and suggestions. All of these sources can be found in one simple spot. As we grow, so will the content from areas outside the Valley.”
Some subreddit members use the community to meet other people with interests similar to their own. “It’s a good way to meet new people,” Perkins said. “If your new to the area or just have a question, you’ll get a quick response to it on the Youngstown subreddit.”
Ziegler agrees. He also thinks it’s one of the best ways community members can help the network.
“We have plenty of residents and visitors asking for recommendations on housing, restaurants and the night life that usually result in a lot of responses,” Ziegler added. “From incoming YSU students to travelers stopping in Youngstown for the night, looking for a bite to eat, we do our best to answer their questions.”
Most moderators don’t know each other personally. They’re simply dedicated to cultivating a positive online community. So it surprised Ziegler to learn that his fellow moderator, Perkins, was a high-school senior.
“He’s very aware of the area around us and well educated on current events,” Ziegler added. “I think the rest of the [subreddit] could learn a thing or two from him.”
Zielger and Perkins want the community to grow and flourish.
“We have a weekly events post, and we encourage anyone to add to it, whether it’s a high-school play, a local band or even people looking for that extra card player,” Ziegler said.
To learn more, to join and contribute, or just read the posts, visit the Youngstown subreddit at www.reddit.com/r/youngstown.
According to my 6-year-old son, Oscar, today is not Mother’s Day.
His older siblings explained that Mother’s Day is a fake holiday used to sell cards and candy and perfume.
“Kind of like Valentine’s Day,” one sister said.
“We invented it,” another kid said with a wink.
He took this to mean, quite literally, that his siblings made up the holiday as a means for buying gifts for Mom.
Not that my wife is a bad cook, but they also said, “And we like the going-out-to-eat part, too.”
With nothing to give his mother for Mother’s Day, he simply said, “I can just give you something tomorrow. After all, Mother’s Day is just a made-up holiday.”
His older siblings snorted and laughed so loudly at this that my son’s cheeks turn bright red. He knew he’d been played. Tears welled in bottom of his eyes. He stormed from the room, and buried his face in a pillow.
Confused and ashamed, he was trying to process this new information, and to sort out why today wasn’t really a day to celebrate Mom.
Trying to console him, I said, “Every day is Mother’s Day,” loud enough for his siblings to hear in the other room.
I said this partly in jest, to tease my wife and to get a reaction from his sisters.
“Isn’t that the truth,” the middle sister exclaimed.
Standing on the precipice of a potentially deep hole I did not want to be in on my wife’s special day, I looked to her for help.
Quick as whip, Mom came to the rescue with, of all things, her smartphone.
Yes, we fully admit to being the kind of parents who pull out their screens to sit in front of sad, young eyes. Critics who say it’s bad parenting to open an entertaining YouTube video for gloomy or unruly kids have clearly never had gloomy or unruly kids.
Parents who’ve been in this situation know what a blessing it is to have that kind of solution at their fingertips.
My wife opened the Facebook app. She’s not on social media often these days, and when she is, it’s usually to reminisce. A few years ago, before we knew better, we were posting lots of pictures of our kids. We often only shared images with close friends and family, but we still have access to all of those great memories.
There’s usually one memory, one post long forgotten, conveniently added to the top of our Facebook feeds entitled “Your Memories on Facebook.” Today’s memory is a picture from last Mother’s Day. It’s my wife playing a game with my son.
His tears quickly turn to smiles and laughter as they scroll through other posts, some from when he was just a baby.
“See, every day really is Mother’s Day, and I have proof,” she said, scrolling through post and pictures of our happy kids.
One of my favorite movies is James L. Brooks’ “Broadcast News.” It’s a treasure trove of wonderful quotes.
Some of best dialogue comes from a scene involving Jane Craig, the producer, and Paul Moore, the news director.
Moore says, “It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you’re the smartest person in the room.”
Craig confidently replies, “No. It’s awful.”
I was reminded of this quote as we wrapped our final social media essentials brown-bag session last week.
As I walked away from the room, I was surprised by the amount of “stuff” I don’t really know about social media.
There. I said it. There’s a lot I don’t know about social media. That’s probably a lot for our (wonderful, amazing) editors at The Vindicator to take in.
I can hear it now: Wait, we’ve been letting this guy write a social media column for five years?
Of course, there’s no reason for me to be even the slightest bit concerned by this revelation. Here’s why.
If I’m the smartest person in the room, then I’m in the wrong room.
Now, I realize that’s a quote that’s been attributed to everyone from Confucius to Steve Jobs. It really doesn’t matter who said it, or how or why they said it, so much as why it’s important when we’re learning or at least open to learning.
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat – all platforms we covered in our first series – there’s just too much for us to know to think we’ll have more answers than anyone else in the room.
A good case study for this is Snapchat – the topic of our final session.
It was also the least attended of all sessions.
I found this last part surprising: the least attended.
Snapchat is the one social media platform about which I hear the most hesitation.
Granted, most of those who attended our last session were not in Snapchat’s “heavy user” demographic of 13- to 18-year-olds. Most admitted they’ve never even used Snapchat.
They were there because they wanted to learn more.
Snapchat instructors, Ryan McNicholas and Matt O’Dell, skillfully guided us through the basics of Snapchat, how it works, what to expect from it in terms of a marketing advantage. But they fully admitted at the beginning, “We don’t have all the answers.”
A room full of 18-year-olds would have had just as tough of a time defining all the advantages and strategies for marketing on the social messaging platform.
Most of us who attended these sessions left with answers to help us feel a little smarter and a little more confident when using social media. We also left with a lot of questions.
Of course, the smartest people who were in the room with us are those out looking for those answers today.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor of communication studies the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA where he also directs the graduate program in professional communication. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator and Tribune-Chronicle newspapers on social media and society.