THE BUTTON

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Chinese-American
Age: 22
Occupation: Student
Residence: USC, from Portland, Oregon
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/23/15
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Chinese

ABOUT THE INFORMANT:

My informant is a senior graduating this semester from USC. He is a biomedical engineer, and is the oldest son of two immigrants from China.

EXAMPLE:

https://www.reddit.com/r/thebutton/

CONTEXT/BACKGROUND:

“I found this thing, well actually, my buddy sent it over to me because he is the one who always spends his time on the internet, Reddit in general, and he showed it to me. It’s basically this button, I guess it’s been up since April 1st. Apparently it was supposed to be like an April’s Fools joke, you know? So that’s how it all begun.

The whole concept is that there is like this timer. And it is counting down from 60 seconds. And every time someone clicks it, then the clock resets back to 60. And so far, I guess like over 800,000 people have clicked it. And you can only click it once. And in order to be eligible to click it you must have a Reddit account from before April 1st, 2015. There is like a whole wiki that the people of Reddit created on it.

But essentially, it’s like never dropped to 00. Like the clock has never run out. Someone has always clicked it before the clock runs out, you know. So, like, some people just watch it. And some sites track it, I guess.

But then like, Reddit started giving you a badge with a specific color for when you pressed it on the timer. So like Anywhere between 60 and 50 you get a purple badge, and then it keeps working its way down the wire until you get Red, which is between 10-00.

But now what’s happened is that like a hierarchy, a class system has like been established. Because the color is shown on your profile. So they will have like the red, green, purple, whatever, and then if you haven’t clicked it, it’s gray. So now like Red is like the best, with Purple seen as the worst. And then gray is like the pacifists or whatever. Like they aren’t taking part. And their are subreddits about the colors.

So now everyone has like their own community. And then there’s been like fan fiction, comics, memes, all about these freakin’ colors and the button.

It’s absurd.

And then since it’s also never run out, everyone is kind of panicking too about what will happen when it does.”

ANALYSIS:

What’s so funny about this is that there is this community that has sprung up from just a button. It is now for some people a form of identity. I do not think I could have ever predicted that if something like this happened people would care about it this much. Of course, this obsession of the button is quite contained, but people take it seriously.

I think it is interesting that people have started creating forms of media all about the button, linking the community together through inside jokes and vernacular that only they know. It has become this cause, to keep the button alive, and then in that it has turned into a system that mirrors our own in terms of society and classism. On one hand, I would like to think that for some people it is pure satire, but I think for others they actually are buying into it. There is like a real pride from being in the red group. And there are inside jokes just based on what color you are. It really is a weird mirror of society in its own way.