Coolest Social Experiment you probably missed (twice)

By Nazar Kostiv

| 2022-05-02

Coolest Social Experiment you probably missed (twice)

Fool's Day — is an internationally accepted custom to spend one day a year joking around and tricking your friends. The goal? To spend way too much time preparing overly complex prank schemes (and to have a good laugh at the end of course) It’s a joke day, what more can I say?

From my experience, fewer and fewer people adhere to the rules of this day lately. We are all way too busy with work, commitments, and other responsibilities after all.

From time to time, however, someone, somewhere, decides to prepare something grand for a day as such. And what better place to choose as the site of action than the place we all spend our lives in?

On the 1st of April 2017, the popular social media platform Reddit hosted a collaborative canvas on one of its subreddits (r/place). The rules for interacting with the digital drawing board were simple. Anyone can draw on the canvas, but one shall only change the colour of a single pixel once every few minutes. The colour palette provided was also limited to distinct 16 shades (later expanded to 32).

So what have we got to play with? 16 colours and an empty space? What good could come of it? You can see a snapshot of what was created on the cover picture of this article. Take a moment to zoom in on different sections of the canvas. And take a moment to appreciate the amount of effort it took to create that tiny art piece. Imagine the number of people standing firmly behind it, ready to fight for their creation should anyone decide to destroy it (and let me remind you, anyone can edit any pixel).

Now slowly start zooming out. Once the scale of the experiment hits you, I encourage you to view the full timelapse. What can you see? Music, flags, memes, pop culture, characters, logos, manga, references, butts, advertisements… art.

The experiment was repeated again this year, with the underlying idea remaining unchanged. Over 6 million users participated. Over 72 million pixels were placed.

A social experiment is a type of psychological or sociological research for testing people’s reactions to certain situations or events. The experiment depends solely on a particular social approach when the main source of information is people with their knowledge and point of view.

r/place is just a single example of such events. They are happening all the time, not just on special dates. They are being organised as I am writing and as you are reading this. And do you wanna know the best part? You can organise such events too. Maybe not on the scale of Reddit (not trying to discourage you, feel free to try), but you too can create insert smth you want to create and share it with others.

Other notable mentions include Twitch Plays Pokemon where everyone in the community was given the power to control the actions of an in-game character. Entire lore was written surrounding this event. And you were either a part of it or you were not.

Team Trees and Team Seas — an online motion aimed at regrowing wildlife and cleaning our oceans to make our planet a better place for future generations. To this day over 13 million trees were planted across the globe and more are on the way.

Wherever there is room for creativity, humans will gather to share their vision

But why am I telling you this? Of course, you know there is a tonne of interesting stuff on the internet. That’s what the internet is for!

The reason is — I implore you to take part in such initiatives, whether they are for the good of humanity or just for some good time. We all know how effortless and comforting it is to turn on YouTube/Twitch/TikTok/Insta/… and just absorb. Sometimes that is exactly what our body needs, but surely we are more than that. Do not fall into the world envisaged by Huxley in 1932. Do not rob your life of emotions by getting lost in the endless cycle of consumption. Write. Speak. Talk. Share. Laugh. Stand Up. Be A Part.

View other essays by Nazar Kostiv