Everyone knows that the Air Force is the best of all military branches. But how many people know that the Air Force also has the coolest Reddit page? Compared to the other services, the Air Force Reddit page really highlights why we’re the Chair Force!
BLUF: I am not a Redditor. The only reason I know that term is because I have kids. That said, if I were a young person today and thinking of joining the military, the Air Force’s Reddit page would be a veritable treasure trove of information. Point of fact, Air Force Reddit will tell you that BLUF stands for “bottom line up front.” Now you know.
What Is Air Force Reddit?
According to Wikipedia, Reddit is an American social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website. That means that users submit their own posts and comments and other people upvote or downvote them. Vote counts determine where these posts and comments wind up in the pecking order. I know that is a gross oversimplification, but I don’t have the space to write a book here.
As Reddit says, “Dive into anything.” So, I dove into r/Air Force. The r/ designation is to show the Air Force page is a subreddit: a whole community dedicated to nothing but the USAF. The Army, Navy, and Marine Corps also have their own subreddits, but the Air Force page is so much more populated than any of their pages.
Compare the front page of the Army Reddit to the Air Force Reddit:
The first thing you notice is how much better the Air Force Reddit page is than the Army’s. Much like the services themselves. Granted, the Army’s page has more members than the Air Force’s, but that can be explained by the sheer difference in branch size. Besides, we ALL KNOW that on the Air Force’s page there has plenty of Army guys lurking and checking out the color of the grass. Ah, but the grass is always greener over the septic tank, as Erma Bombeck used to say. If you don’t know who that is, her books are available at your local library. Check them out.
Why the Air Force Reddit Is So Useful?
The next thing to notice is the number and type of drop-down menus available on the Air Force Reddit page. There are many posts, yes, but also mental health resources; information on how to join the Air Force; and links to other pages and sites with real-world information in them. There is even a “no memes” button that takes you to real questions, answers, and discussions free from memes and jokes that sideline research. In short, the Air Force Reddit page is a one-stop-shop for all things Air Force-related.
Look at the Army Reddit and feel bad about your life choices. There are no drop-downs with links to real information. The background and page colors are monochrome and unexciting. Scroll down and you see a lot of complaining. Scroll on the Air Force page and see a lot of awesomeness. Memes, cartoons, complaints, questions, links to other cool stuff. There is even a link to EPR bullet writing sites, for goodness’ sake.
If this had been available to me when I was a young airman, my EPRs would have been a lot cooler. For those who don’t know, the EPR is an enlisted performance report, i.e. many lines of BS that poorly define what you have done over the past year. They also have a numeric rating that seems arbitrarily calculated to promote only the douchiest of airmen to higher ranks. But I digress…
Looking through the Air Force Reddit page, I am proud of the branch I served in. For the most part, comments are respectful, helpful, and accurate. Members talk about their career fields, answer questions from people who are curious, and actively seek to help those in need. There is a lot of banter and complaining, but it has the feel of “everyone pull together and we can get through this” rather than the “ha ha, sucks to be you” found in a lot of other places.
One of the major menu items on the Air Force Reddit page is the Mental Health Resources menu. Click that menu and the first thing you see is this:
Mental health is extremely important today, especially with the Afghanistan withdrawal, rioting in the streets, and mass shootings every other day. Right away, the Air Force page wants visitors to know they have options. Oftentimes people go to user-generated websites to vent when they’ve had a bad day or experience, or when they are looking for support. The Air Force’s Reddit page says “Come on in and vent! Use these mental health links if venting is not enough. We got you!” There is even a link to Redditors who have volunteered to chat with people who need a one-on-one space to vent. These are not paid and trained counselors, but just people who have volunteered their time to be that ear that someone can turn to when they feel helpless.
That’s Funny, I Don’t Care Who You Are!
It’s not all seriousness, though. Jokes and jabs are there in force.
Dig into the comments and you’ll find discussions on self-identifying drug use and characterization of discharge, along with goofy replies. The information is there and r/AirForce users want to make sure it is available to anyone. All in all, a good community.
The thing about Reddit and how it affects the user experience is that users determine the content. As things get upvoted, they move to the foreground. When content is sub-par, downvotes ensure it goes into cold storage. Negative people and posts get downvoted and misinformation gets called out relatively quickly. The subreddit members want the page to continue to grow, so they work to keep information relevant, engaging, and factual. r/AirForce should always be in your informational toolbox!