Global gathering

Reddit’s Global Meet-Up Day brings together Ventura County residents

By Chris O'Neal 06/12/2014

 

When Andrew Hollander first became aware of Redditors in his area, it was almost serendipity. A Simi Valley resident, posting on Reddit (the so called “front page of the Internet”), was in desperate need of friendship. He turned to the sub-forum AskReddit, where users can pose questions to subscribers, for company. Hollander, who is also a Simi Valley resident, responded.


“He said, “I’m really depressed in Simi Valley, California, and I’m just looking for someone to talk to,’” said Hollander. “People were commenting on it saying that they’re from the area, and so we picked him up on the way to this meet-up we had.”


Hollander says he was surprised at the number of people in Ventura County who were users of Reddit. After that initial meet-up, a larger, more formal gathering was proposed to coincide with the website’s official day honoring those who can brave meeting strangers from the Internet face to face: Global Reddit Meet-up Day.


“It’s kind of like, hey, do you want to get together with a bunch of people you don’t know who all happen to have common interests with you?” says Hollander.


Reddit was founded in 2005 by two college friends, Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian. From humble beginnings as a sort-of aggregator, sort-of message board, the site exploded over the years into its motto, becoming one of the top 100 websites in the world according to the web analytics site Alexa.com, registering just under 3 million users and over 113 million monthly unique visitors. With these kinds of numbers, a Reddit meet-up can happen literally just about anywhere on the planet.


For Reddit users residing in Ventura County, the subforum /r/VenturaCounty (VCRED) is the congregation point. With just under 1,500 users, the forum is a moderately active place for county residents to discuss anything from politics to the sighting of a man who looks eerily similar to Joe Pesci at a drive-thru restaurant.


Kevin Wells is “a fairly active member” of VCRED who lives in Camarillo. After moving into the county three years ago, Wells used the forum to meet friends and to plan meet-ups, a practice that comes easy to him as an Internet veteran.


“It’s been easy for me because I basically grew up on the Internet,” said Wells. “We have a really cool group of people who are accepting and friendly.”


It isn’t limited to Global Reddit Meet-Up Day, either. In 2013, VCRED hosted a “sausage fest” in which members gathered to quaff hotdogs and beer, and in 2012 members took a tour of the coast to visit various breweries.


At the first VCRED meet-up in 2011, around 15 people showed up at a park in Camarillo. In 2013, upward of 40 arrived to play kickball, ultimate Frisbee and Cards Against Humanity, says Wells. This year, when the meet-up will be hosted at San Buenaventura State Beach and have a Mexican theme, Wells predicts more will come.


“It opens you to making new relations without much risk of any negativity,” said Wells. “Really, making friends is as simple as forcing yourself to go do things you might find uncomfortable at first, but if they’re good people they’ll be good friends and you’ll have a good time.”


Hollander, who formed a kickball team with members of VCRED he met at meet-ups, says that many of his friends have come from Reddit.


“I went, met a whole bunch of people I didn’t know before, and we talked for hours and we’ve all become friends.”


Reddit’s Global Meet-Up Day takes place on Saturday, June 14. The VCRED will meet up at Noon., Saturday, June 14, at San Buenaventura State Beach, 901 San Pedro St., Ventura. For more information, visit www.reddit.com/r/venturacounty.

 

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