For the last few weeks, I’ve been covering the many ideas and problems of the anti-work movement. There’s a lot to cover and it’s been fun breaking it all down. But I could never have predicted that in the middle of my series, the movement itself would break apart in a spetacular display of poetic irony. Today, we’re retelling the disaster of January 25th, 2022.
Earlier this week, an interview was released between Fox News host, Jesse Watters, and anti-work Reddit moderator, Doreen Ford. You can watch it on YouTube here. I think it speaks for itself, but I’ll describe it for those who prefer to read. Watters asks some of the most basic questions one might come up with regarding the anti-work movement. In addition, he probes for a few personal details. What results is utter hilarity.
Doreen appears via a garbled mess of pixels from a cheap webcam. He looks like he hasn’t showered in days. In the background, we see a messy room and an unmade bed. Throughout the interview, Doreen fidgets and seems determined not to make eye contact. The visuals alone are enough to conclude that this individual is a perfect representation of the lazy leftist stereotype. At first, Doreen makes an attempt to explain that the movement isn’t necessarily about removing work, but about allowing people more freedom, flexibility, and respect in their chosen vocations. But he goes off the rails quite fast when Watters asks about laziness.
“Laziness is a virtue in a society where people constantly want you to be productive 24/7”Doreen Ford, Reddit Moderator
It only gets worse. As it turns out, Doreen is 30 years old and works 20 hours a week as a dog walker. Oh, and he would like to work less than that! When asked about future endeavors, Doreen said he wouldn’t mind working as a dog walker the rest of his life, but might also be interested in teaching philosophy and critical thinking. As you might expect, Watters uses this to his advantage, nearly bursting from laughter at a few points, ending the interview by saying, “Thank you so much. We gotta run. We gotta pay the bills.”
And that’s all it took to bring a movement to its knees. Within the hour, the entire anti-work subreddit (think of it as an online forum) was up in arms. Why was Doreen the one representing the movement? Who approved of letting someone so incompetent on TV, let alone to speak for the 1.7 million members of the community? Who was this awful person who had tanked their credibility for the foreseeable future? They wanted answers.
As soon as the dissension began, the moderator team took action. Whether it originated from Doreen, other mods, or a mix of both, they decided to remove all posts and comments about the Fox News interview, especially critical opinions. The community noticed this and rebelled instantly. What started as outrage for a botched interview evolved into outrage over censorship in the name of damage control. Moderators claimed they were dealing with a “brigade,” meaning cruel comments from people who were not members of the community coming to laugh at them. But in reality, a huge number of long-time anti-work members were banned. It was painfully ironic that the people who believed in freedom from oppressive employers were so eager to silence reasonable criticism from their own community.
In response to this, the moderators closed the subreddit by temporarily making it private. But the damage was done. People knew what had happened and trying to cover it up only made it worse. Someone started a new subreddit called Work Reform. Hundreds of threads all across the website were popping up talking about the dumpster fire that had taken place. The anti-work subreddit was opened again within a day or two, but even more moderator shenanigans were now unfolding behind the scenes.
Doreen was busy. Soon after the interview received backlash, he went to work defending himself and banning people in the process. Needless to say, he didn’t take the criticism well. Eventually, he decided it was a lost cause and deleted everything about the incident from his account’s history. After a post from his own Facebook was uncovered that confessed to what could only be described as sexual assault, his reign was over and he was removed from the subreddit. But Doreen wasn’t going lightly. Another account was created and in only a few hours, it was promoted to moderator and began banning people. The community noticed immediately. After this account received scrutiny, it was deleted and yet another account took up the mantel, defending Doreen at every turn. Even more accounts have surfaced since then. The community was convinced at this point that Doreen was the one making these accounts.
In addition to this, it was revealed that several other moderators had connections with Doreen or problems of their own. One was his roommate. Another had a record of interest in pedophilia, incest, and beastiality. Another was in a relationship with Doreen. This particular mod, looking to calm the masses, also posted a statement on the subreddit sharing, among other things, that he was 21 years old, “long-term unemployed,” and a radical anarchist. Oh, he also already completed several other interviews with media outlets! Everything that could possibly have further eroded any shred of trust left between the moderators and the community was coming to pass. It was looking like the end of anti-work, and for good reason.
As the insanity started to slow, many moderators were replaced or removed, including the ones I’ve mentioned. New mods were put in place who clearly had more experience not saying things that made them look like complete and utter fools. The front page is void of complaints for the most part. The new and improved statement addressing the recent catastrophe has been received fairly positively. As of now, it looks like the community is on a slow road to recovery.
What cannot be ignored, however, is that this was a huge turning point. The entire community was split several times over into different camps and new subreddits. The embarrassment anti-work now has to deal with is unparalleled. They had a caricature of their cause show the whole world that they are just as disgusting and childish as onlookers might suspect. They learned there were ignorant kids and sexual deviants leading their group. It’s impressive how easily it all came tumbling down. I think it speaks to the kind of people who are attracted not only to the idea of not working, but the power that comes from running an internet space. That they love it enough to do it for free should tell you all you need to know.
By now you’re probably as sick of reading about this little piece of internet history as I am of writing it. I can only take so much degeneracy at once. That said, we’ll likely be continuing this series next week, where we return to a philosophical look at why this strange movement emerged in the first place and what it has become. There’s more to all this than unwashed communists, despite what you’ve seen. Enter your email below if you want to be notified when that goes live. Thanks for reading. Godspeed.