Reddit is rapidly changing the way people experience news, and today brings an incredible example of how that's happening.
On Monday, the copilot of an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Ethiopia to Rome hijacked the plane and flew it to Geneva, where he sought asylum after the aircraft landed safely. None of the 202 passengers was injured, and the hijacker was apprehended by police.
If you want to know what it was like to be on that flight, you don't need to rely on a 15-second sound bite from an interview with a passenger. Instead, care of Reddit, you can now ask one of the passengers on that flight any question you'd like.
Offering a photo of his luggage tag as proof, a Redditor posted an Ask Me Anything on Tuesday morning saying that he was a passenger on the flight, and "it was hell."
The post has drawn nearly 3,000 comments in just three hours. Here are some of the most interesting responses:
- What was it like in the flight?
"We were moving freely," the passenger writes. "The stewardess were giving out water and saying safe words. However, you could see some of them were crying."
- Did anyone consider trying to take out the hijacker?
"I don't know. I thought about it a lot but I was petrified."
- What goes through your head?
"I think it's like you are dying in a hospital bed. You're scared, you know that it's over soon and you ask yourself a lot of questions: do you have regrets, who will come to your funeral, is this real.. There nothing you can do, so you eventually accept it to 90%."
- What were the other passengers on the flight doing?
"They were talking amongst themselves but I don't know was it was about. I didn't see anybody breaking down completely, just praying or singing."
The questions are still coming, because of course they are. Reddit has established a forum for curiosity, whether it's about a major news event or unique genitalia. This potential for engagement doesn't really exist anywhere else, and it's changing expectations about what readers can learn from news.
That's not to say that traditional media should be on notice. Giving anyone with a Reddit account access to a seemingly infinite number of sources doesn't make a newspaper story about those same sources obsolete, especially when so many of the sources are unreliable. Reddit is a radically imperfect medium, but its massive growth has helped make an incredible number of previously impossible questions answerable.