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The Herman Cain Award: The prize no one wants to get and creators want to destroy37:06
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r/TheHermanCainAward is a subreddit which boasts more than 500,000 members. Its purpose? To "award" those who've died from coronavirus complications after publicly expressing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, misinformation, or pandemic-denying memes online.

Herman Cain, former businessman, politician and Republican candidate for president, is the inspiration behind the subreddit, who died in 2020 after contracting COVID-19. Before he died, Cain had made statements downplaying the pandemic and refused preventative measures such as mask-wearing. 

Today's episode is a deep dive into The Herman Cain Award subreddit. We meet a moderator and a Cain Award nominee. But we find these two people on opposite sides of the COVID vaccine debate may have more in common than they realize.

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Full Transcript:

This content was originally created for audio. The transcript has been edited from our original script for clarity. Heads up that some elements (i.e. music, sound effects, tone) are harder to translate to text. 

[MUSIC] 

Glenn Hodge: I'm probably going to go ahead and just get off of Facebook. You know, I Googled my name and went, 'Holy crap, I'm not as safe as I thought I was.' So yeah, as a Christian, I'm coming under attack by these types of people also makes me think, 'Okay, I'm doing something right?'

Ben: Glenn Hodge has been nominated for an award on the internet. He didn’t ask to be nominated and he does NOT want to get the award.

The award he does NOT want to get is called the Herman Cain Award. Remember Herman Cain?

Herman Cain: AWWW Shucky Ducky now! We’re gonna have some fun!

Amory: Businessman, Tea Party activist, presidential candidate. Who identified as an outsider promising to, even before Donald Trump started using the phrase, make America Great Again.

Cain: We're going to Make American Great Again, but I need your help. 

Ben: Herman Cain was UNIQUE to be sure. He made campaign videos featuring cowboy brawls. He had his own SONG.

["THE HERMAN CAIN TRAIN" SONG PLAYS WITH LYRICS]

Ben: One of the things Herman Cain will now forever be known for is being skeptical of Covid restrictions.

Cain: But all you’re gonna hear from the media is how many new cases, how many people died world wide, when in fact the virus is being contained here in the United States of America.

Amory: He will be forever known for this because in 2020 weeks after the comments you just heard...

News anchor: Herman Cain has died at the age of 74. His death confirmed by his Twitter account.

Ben: A Twitter account from the politician and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza that somewhat strangely continued to tweet in his voice long after he passed. Further solidifying the public’s cringing bemusement with the guy who thumbed his nose at COVID, just before dying of COVID.

Amory: Some months later, the internet would spawn The Herman Cain Award. Which many people now know about. Including Glenn. Who has also experienced some new-found internet infamy.

Amory: How did you first hear about the Herman Cain award?

Glenn: Quincy

Amory: From Quincy OK? And what's your understanding of what it is?

Glenn: Well, it’s a piece of crap isn’t it?

Ben: For the last month or so, our producer Quincy Walters has been diving back into the history of Herman Cain and his death, because of this odd internet award and an online community based on the award. A community that gets between four and six million views a month on Reddit just a year and a half ago.

Quincy: Recently, I came across this subreddit community named Herman Cain award. And I started lurking there.

Ben: I have also been lurking there for a good bit. And how would you describe it Quincy?

Quincy: I guess you could say it takes the real life and real death experience of Herman Cain and looks for other examples among all kinds of people who are skeptical of COVID or COVID restrictions or whatever and then subsequently die of COVID. It’s pretty morbid.

Amory: It’s basically photo slideshows, showing people’s Facebook posts where they make fun of COVID or say it’s a hoax or whatever using memes and then start posting about getting sick.

Ben: And then posting about going into the hospital, and then sometimes you see other people posting on their behalf saying thank you for the prayers for so-and-so, and then announcing that the person has died.

Quincy: Right. And as I started digging into this, I found a post for a Herman Cain Award nominee that got 1 point 7 million views over six thousand upvotes and 2 thousand five hundred shares. The nominee was Glenn.

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Glenn: My name is Glenn Hodge. I am in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I was in U.S. Army Infantry under Reagan, if that dates me (cough) sorry. 

Amory: When we talked to Glenn, he was still recovering from a pretty serious case of COVID. He and his wife both got sick. And Glenn did NOT feel that—in the Academy Awards parlance—it was just an honor to be nominated.

Ben: No, he was pissed. But as we learned, Glenn and some of the people spending a lot of time on the Herman Cain Award Subreddit actually had some interesting things in common. They almost had enough in common that we had an idea. Maybe a terrible idea. Maybe a great idea? Time to find out.

Hammy: We're not just these bunch of jerks who are like, Oh, ha ha ha, we're humans, we have a lot of empathy and sympathy. 

[MUSIC] 

Amory: So as you may have already gleaned Glenn Hodge is not an EXPERT internet user. Or Redditor. Which is why on March 10th, he wasn’t sure at first what was happening to his Facebook page. Or maybe he could see WHAT was happening, his page was blowing up with critical posts and comment replies. But why?

Glenn: What went through my mind was, I have like 300 friends. Don't ask me why I have even that. I, I don't know more than 50 of them. But, you know, I was like, Why are you guys even? You know, I'm not a target. You know, I was just confused by it. 

Ben: Hammy would not have been confused.

Hammy: It was originally only for public figures and now we're really in the territory of being dominated by Facebook accounts.

Ben: Hammy—her nickname not her real name—is a volunteer moderator of the Herman Cain Award subreddit,  who joined right as the community was exploding last August, when most Americans had access to the vaccine. But many were choosing not to get vaccinated. She’s watched and participated as the community has gone from taking public figures to task, to getting into the trenches of what could be described as an information war.

Hammy: So our underlying philosophy is that the people who are creating the posts on Facebook actively trying to influence others. So we obviously understand that there are people who hold anti-mask anti-vaccine anti mandate, personal opinions that is not who we are putting on this sub. So the people that are on the sub are posting content that is intended to influence others. They have set their profile on purpose or an accident to public.

A: Glenn might fall into the category of having his Facebook profile set to public by accident. It’s not anymore…ever since the deluge of comments from randos. But he also might fall into the influencer bucket for the Herman Cain Award people. Because normally, he’s no shrinking violet.

Glenn: I'm pretty vocal. I have been diminishing our government's response to this pandemic and to this disease. So that's basically been my post, you know, complaining and making fun of government officials. Democrat or Republican. If you're if you were on the wrong side of this, From my perspective, you were not spared.

Amory: So, I'm looking at there's a meme that you shared of Dory from Finding Nemo.

Ben: Yes. Glenn’s general critiques about the government response to COVID, not the seriousness of the disease, he will point out, mostly came in meme form. Which put him in the crosshairs of people like Hammy, who nominate people for their public posts.

Hammy: A lot of the people that I've put up, it's sometimes it's one hundred percent of their content. It's 80 percent of their content, it's 50 percent of their content. 

Amory: The subreddit, which Glenn had never been to before a few weeks ago, is FULL of Herman Cain Awards and nominations.

Hammy: So we do have two different categories. We have a nomination and we have an award. So in order to get the award, the person has to die. The nominations are the person has to go to the hospital.

Ben: And if you, dear listener are going NO WAY, NO WAY is this real. Well, you’re not alone.

Hammy: So sometimes we do have people that say, Oh, this is all made up. It's completely fake. That is not true. So we actually have we go out to the Facebook pages. We verify the material. We verify the death. We cross-reference any go fund me pages, any obituaries. So we actually have a full internal tracking system.

Amory: The nominations and awards are of course crowd-sourced. Hundreds a day. And Hammy and other moderators log on and get to work.

There ARE rules about which posts are allowed to stay up and which get taken down. And not just when it comes to proof of death.

Hammy: In our world, everybody's face has to be blacked out and covered. The names of the hospitals have to be blacked out. The names of individual names have to be blacked out and covered.

Ben: There are also automods, or bots, little bits of software that detect certain phrases and automatically take down posts so a human doesn’t have to.

But there are ALSO pages that are much more lenient than r/Herman Cain Award. And Hammy will tell you, in perfect Canadian…

Hammy: There are a couple of other sites Sorry Anti-Vaxxer, as well as the Herman Cain Facebook page. We are not associated with those pages, and they do tend to publicly identify folks. 

Amory: But even if people aren't publicly identified, they’re still easy to find. Quincy found Glenn by just Googling the exact words of his posts on Facebook, which were included in the Reddit Screenshots.

Ben: So it's kind of like a tricky thing, right? Like on the one hand, you're you're you're doing some work to to anonymize these, these folks. But at the same time, it doesn't go all the way in and in anonymizing them.

Hammy: Correct. So a couple of things. Number one, from a strictly moderating standpoint whenever, if there are comments that are made about visiting.

Ben: Hammy by the way did not want us to list her real name for fear of online retribution, doxing, et cetera. She says that any users on Reddit who post specific information about a nominee or awardee’s accounts, or advocate visiting or brigading, swarming the user online like Glenn got swarmed, are banned and their comments are removed from Reddit.

Amory: She also argues that the other sites she mentioned, with fewer rules about personally identifying details, are more often the origin of brigading or swarming nominees or awardees. Of course, those other sites often post about people after the subreddit posts about them. So...

Ben: So there are a lot of things that are tricky about all of this. And the schadenfreude of watching people go through this evolution is tempting to read and share.

Hammy: And I think one of the things that is really compelling about the sub and it certainly was for me as a user as well, is that we're getting this story from the person or the family members themselves. This is not a media scrubbed version of it. It's not an edited version of it.

Amory: Though, the people posting this stuff to Reddit are curating it in a way. So, not sure that fully tracks. Either way it’s pretty eerie to watch as snarky memes descend into illness, photos from hospital beds, then requests for prayers from relatives that become more and more frantic, and then…death announcements.

Ben: All in sets of three to seventeen screenshots in a row. This is also how Glenn’s Herman Cain Award slide show started.

Glenn: I posted the guy from The Matrix, you know, Omicron, take the to the red pill and get two jabs and endless boosters and get a cold or do nothing and get a cold.

Amory: But you wouldn't describe what you experienced as a cold.

Glenn: No, no. And my brother-in-law pointed out that irony.

Amory: Yeah. Well, does it has any part of you stop to wonder if I had gotten vaccinated, would I have had the mild cold experience versus no like real tough pneumonia experience?

Glenn: No, no, no. Not one part of me has stopped to think of that. And you know what I mean? Look, I think. And you know, I was given ivermectin, which is not a horse paste, by the way. And I think that that actually saved my life.

Ben: Yes, Glenn is still sick. He says he COVID from one of his two daughters who is a healthcare worker. But he’s still kickin'. He and his wife got a supply of oxygen and an oxygen concentrator. He says they knew were taking a risk and they say they didn’t waste resources by going to a hospital.

Amory: Glenn does seem to cultivate in an almost Herman Cain-ian way, The idea that he’s NOT easily pigeon-holed when it comes to the politics of all this.

Glenn: I'm not an Hannity listener and pro-Trump guy. I did not vote for him in 2016. I did vote and I'll be, you know, I don't mind sharing my vote. I did vote for him in 2020 just because I didn't like the alternative.

Amory: Glenn identifies politically as independent. But not libertarian.

Glenn: You get three libertarians in a room. You're going to have four different opinions. 

Ben: To hear him tell it, the politics don’t really matter to Glenn. He seems generally just disgusted with how the powers that be have failed to lead on COVID. But it’s not entirely clear what he thinks the correct leadership would have been.

Amory: The Reddit post nominating Glenn for the Herman Cain Award DOES feature some pretty political statements he made on Facebook. A joker meme that describes the January 6th attacks on the Capitol as “funny.” A post thanking the Freedom convoy of truckers in Canada. Another from Glenn’s wife explaining why they didn’t go to the hospital, linking to a video that promotes ivermectin as a treatment and says that hospital workers try to kill you.

Not clear if Glenn’s daughters are counted among that kind of healthcare worker or not.

Glenn says he ended up paying out of pocket to get a treatment of Ivermectin from a doctor outside of Colorado. Which is frustrating to him. He points out that Ivermectin won the Nobel Prize some years back–a common refrain for its proponents.

Ben: Technically two scientists won for the drug’s application on stopping PARASITIC infections. COVID is not a parasite, depending on where you are on the political spectrum might give you some pause. And singing the praises of Ivermectin has been a calling card of people who are skeptical of COVID and the vaccines. So, Is Glenn a conspiracy theorist?

Glenn: I'm not vaccinated, but it wasn't because I'm anti-vax. And again, let's be clear, I'm actually U.S. Army Infantry that's been overseas. I have more vaccines coursing through my body than most of the average people walking around the streets. So, no, I am not in any way anti-vaccine.

Ben: What Glenn IS, he says, is very sensitive to the flu shot. He says he used to take it and would get deathly ill. So he stopped. But Glenn’s a little tough to pin down on his belief structure around vaccines. He says his flu shot reaction is what made him and his doctor take a pass on the COVID vaccine. But he also says stuff like this.

Glenn: They told us when when they rolled it out, Hey, you get this vaccine, you won't get COVID and you won't pass on to other people, then yeah, then. Oh, well, now you know, well, it's going to make your symptoms lesser and you won't have to get hospitalized. And then as well, you know what? It's wearing off. You've got to get a booster or, you know, you've got to get a booster shot. And now it's hey, it's time for your fourth booster. And I heard the CEO of Pfizer talking that, you know, that fourth booster is not going to last even four months. And you know, again, it's just not it's doesn't behave like what a normal vaccine would do.

Amory: There’s a lot in there that didn’t really track with our understanding of how vaccines, or COVID, works. Also yes Pfizer's CEO did recently say he thought a fourth booster would be necessary, but no clear statement on the number of months the booster would be effective.

Ben: So we put this to Glenn that it was our understanding that vaccines didn’t provide any black and white guarantees of preventing diseases, but high success rate in protecting you from getting them, from spreading them, and from dying from them.

Glenn: Absolutely, I completely agree with that. That is not the case with the COVID vaccine. Like I said, it doesn't behave like normal vaccines.

Ben: And what's - tell me more about this is a belief you have. You feel like there's science on this or sort of what where does that statement come from?

Glenn: It comes from research and not listening to the talking heads on television. My wife and I try to get viewpoints from every direction. We watch CNN and we watch MSNBC. They don't like any of them. We watch Fox, hate Fox. 

Amory: Glenn starts to get a little ornery as we continue to press him on the origins of his research.

Glenn: To tell you the truth, I'm not so sure how much more I can go into this. I think it's time to move on.

Ben: We never did get Glenn to tell us why he thinks the vaccine doesn’t behave normally. His family seems a little split on this issue by the way. Glenn SAYS his daughter who works in healthcare and is, according to him, fully vaccinated, is the one who gave him COVID. We didn’t get her side of the story. But Glenn says both of his daughters–and maybe his son too–were pretty upset when they found out Glenn had been nominated for a Herman Cain Award.

Glenn: Can you imagine, you know, your daughters get to be a little older and they're reading all these comments and finding out that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people cheering on your father's death? I mean, it's not a good place for any daughter to be.

Amory: Glenn says after he was nominated, one of his daughters called him crying after seeing what was happening on his Facebook page. And he reacted to the comments with a lot of anger.

Glenn: I told somebody that would cower before me. You little b-word, you know?

Ben: How he reacted in the comments wasn’t, as Glenn describes it, very Christian. And this is a guy who, according to his Facebook posts, draws a DIRECT line between the prayers of his friends and his recovery from COVID. Vaccine? Ehh. Prayers of friends? Yeh.

Amory: Glenn makes frustrated statements about anonymous internet users posting from mommy’s basement and statements about how those comments reminded him of his old drill sergeant in the army, training him to shoot indiscriminately on the battlefield.

Glenn: Shoot, shoot. Shoot. Run soon. Well, shoot. OK. And what that does is it conditions you to just shoot it what you see down down in the field. They're not human, right? They're just silhouettes. That's all they are. 

Ben: Information war or real war, war seems to be the analogy for people on both sides. Glenn’s clearly hurt by the stuff he received online, and he thinks it’s bad for society.

Glenn: We've got to start being able to come together and talk. We got to stop dismissing one another and doing, you know, things like Herman Cain award. That's not the answer. We're not going to get anywhere doing that. I'm happy to talk to anybody that wants to be reasonable.

Amory: And this was when we started to get an idea. Because Hammy and Glenn have something in COMMON.

Hammy: Despite being vaccinated, I contracted Long COVID. I am fully recovered or as close to it as a as I can be. But it was really difficult for a long time.

Glenn: I ended up with a form of COVID pneumonia. And let me tell you something that put me down. 

Ben: Glenn’s doctor described this to him as a form of Long COVID. That it would take at least six months for him to recover.

Amory: This was when we were like: HOLD ON. What if, Hammy and Glenn talked? After all, Hammy told us that actually SHE wants the Herman Cain Award community to disappear.

Hammy: I think I can speak for myself and probably all of the other moderators. We are not neutral about what the desired outcome is. So the desired outcome realistically is to make this up, go away. We do not want this to continue.

Ben: So they BOTH think the Herman Cain awards should go away. They BOTH got Long COVID! Could we make this happen?

Amory: More…in a minute.

[SPONSOR BREAK]

Amory: So our non-consenting Herman Cain Award nominee, and our somewhat anonymous Herman Cain Award community moderator, both had Long COVID. And we were low-key trying to get them together. To talk. Glenn was still pissed about being nominated. So he was NOT into being insulted. But...

Glenn: What you can do is you can meet me on a on a playing field of ideas and we can sit down and chat and you can go, you know, ‘Hey, you know, you got really sick there, man. I'm sorry that you got really sick, but doesn't that make you rethink your your your idea?’ Kind of like what you guys are doing? You know, having a civil reasonable discussion.

Ben: I think this is the first time we’ve been accused of having a civil reasonable discussion.

Amory: Better throw in the towel Benjo.

Ben: Not until Glenn and Hammy are buds. Which MIGHT be forever. Considering how Hammy describes Herman Cain Award winners.

Hammy: There's a lot of people with. Goatees, Oakley's they tend to be slightly overweight. I'm not sure that that makes up the vast majority of my social network, and I have a fairly diverse social network.

Amory: And yet!

Hammy: It has actually been for me anyway is quite helpful to get a glimpse inside their Facebook page, inside their heart, inside their mind, inside their experience of that, because I literally did not understand why people would make this decision.

Ben: Something else surprised us when we heard Hammy talk about the time when SHE first got sick and was trying to find a safe space to talk about it.

Hammy: I am double vaccinated, but I was participating in my local subreddits and the conversations were really, not very palatable to me. It still was at a time where there was a lot of shame, a lot of blame, a lot of fear around getting COVID and what it could entail. So when I would share my personal anecdote or my personal story, I was met with a lot of shaming behavior about what I had done wrong.

Amory: This is strange right?! Someone who was shamed for her own behavior around COVID, volunteering to work for an online community that seems to exist to call out people for behaving badly?

Ben: But Hammy says that when she found the Herman Cain Award sub, she found a community that was full of users who identified themselves as healthcare workers, as people with healthcare workers in their families, and also people who had gotten COVID or Long COVID.

Hammy: So we have a lot of, you know, quite in-depth conversation happening in the comments.

Amory: For Hammy, that in-depth conversation was very different from what she had found elsewhere on Reddit.

Hammy: People would actually have a lot of sympathy, people would have questions, people were really more interested in learning about my experience than they were in criticizing, shaming or politicizing it.

Ben: Isn’t this kind of what Glenn was talking about? Civil, reasonable discussion? Might he be up for that with Hammy?

Amory: He supposedly was. Might Hammy be up for that…with Glenn?

Ben: Hammy, are you interested in or willing to talk to Glenn?

Hammy: Yeah, I actually would find that a very interesting experience. 

Ben: So we set about setting Glenn and Hammy up to talk.

Amory: But we DID have some misgivings. Here were two people whose positions might inspire some skepticism. A guy who voted for Trump the SECOND go around and thought the January 6th attacks were funny. But was NOT a Hannity listener. And BELIEVES in vaccines, just not THIS vaccine. And if you’re going into the army, you don’t really have a CHOICE about getting vaccinated.

Ben: And then the moderator who says the conversation on the subreddit, which nominates people for a snarky award when they DIE, was teaching people, including her, empathy towards others? That it was a SAFE space for conversation? While commenters on Glenn’s nomination posted things like “LOL bruh you got one foot in the grave.” or “F*** him. I’m over these turds in the gene pool.”

[MUSIC] 

Ben: Still, we were pretty excited about this. Because, Amory and I have actually done some in-depth reporting on vaccines and vaccine hesitancy and how people with strong polarized opinions can actually come together and work together towards understanding. A huge part of it is just listening to each other.

Amory: Which sounds simplistic we know, but it actually works. And here were two people who could listen and relate to each other, maybe? They BOTH have been shamed for their experience with COVID. They BOTH seemed to think that there was a need for more dialogue and change in how their communities were dealing with the disease. Our fellow producer Quincy was working on setting up a call, right Quincy?

Quincy: I was, yes. But it didn’t work out.

[MUSIC EFFECT: WOMP WOMP]

Ben: Yeah. Both Hammy and Glenn got cold feet. Can you talk about why?

Quincy: Well, in Hammy’s case, she didn’t pull out. She did write about being a little concerned about someone who came to the subreddit community identifying as Glenn’s cousin and using hate speech, which they were banned for as per the normal rules of the community. When he went bad viral, Hammy said Glenn had also seemed to encourage friends and family members to go into the Herman Cain Awards subreddit and doxx or expose the identity of the person who had nominated him for the award. Which, perhaps somewhat ironically, is a no-no on the sub.

Ben: Right. The subreddit which ends up–albeit maybe inadvertently–exposing COVID deniers and skeptics doesn’t want its users exposed. Again, pretty tricky territory all around.

Amory: What did Glenn say Quincy?

Quincy: So I’d been texting with him and he eventually said “I think I’ve done everything I’m going to do on this particular issue. Thanks though.” And then when I asked him if he was sure, he said he had changed his mind because he didn’t think anything good could come from what he called a “direct confrontation.” He also said “It’s certainly not in my best interest after having to tell your host to move on regarding the vaccine.” But then! Glenn did agree to have a conversation. He wasn’t available until late at night and then the day that was supposed to take place, he had a family emergency that would take him away for several days.

Ben: We have to take Glenn at his word on this, of course. But not being able to make this happen before Glenn’s family emergency, was a let down. Because Glenn sounded pretty OPEN when we talked to him. I mean, ornery when we asked him about the research he had done on vaccines, sure. But we thought this was an opportunity for us to repair something, or at least try to make a space for the people involved to repair something.

But we were back to square one, and questions about the impact of the Herman Cain Award.

Ben: Do you ever worry that on balance the impact is negative and just serves to further polarize? 

Hammy: Do I worry if it's creating more polarity?

Ben: Yeah, you know what I mean?

Hammy: Like I do, I'm just thinking about the answer before I say it. Yeah, sure. I think we're two years into the pandemic, and I think a lot of people have very fixed opinions about it. So do I legitimately think at this point that we're the heaviest influencer out in the marketplace? No, I do not.

Ben: Sure.

Hammy: Do I think that we are presenting something neutral? No, I do not. Do I think that we've created a special space where there's a certain kind of conversation happening? Absolutely, I do.

Amory: What does a certain kind of conversation mean? We know what it means for Hammy and those on the sub. What Glenn experienced probably doesn’t feel like a conversation.

Ben: And for some reason this hit me pretty hard because Amory, when we got on the call with Glenn and I saw his video pop from his home in Colorado, where on the wall there was this portrait of a majestic wolf, I RECOGNIZED Glenn, in a way. I feel like I’m only realizing this recently but my family is from Colorado and I never really thought of people from Colorado having their own specific character or identity, but Coloradans are a real thing! Glenn sounds EXACTLY like my Dad’s younger brother, Uncle Tim. A kind-of Midwestern drawl. And so Glenn’s situation, his sickness, the feelings he had after being brigaded on his Facebook page, they actually hit me hard. So landing here feels pretty rough, because here’s something Glenn and I agree on, in theory if not in practice: we are NEVER going to get through this thing unless or until we can talk to each other.

Amory: And we wanted to make this thing happen—to moderate a CONVERSATION, not a confrontation, as Glenn feared, and maybe rightly so. To arrive at, maybe not consensus, but at least a greater understanding where each person was coming from. And we couldn’t make it happen. But here’s a glimmer of hope, maybe. The Herman Cain Award subreddit, which some moderators like Hammy would like to someday see go from 6 million views a month to zero– It doesn’t just hand out awards for people who die.

Hammy: We have a number of people that have been awarded what's called IPA immunized to protect award. So people who have again the the standard for that is quite high. But people who have followed the sub and the stories have propelled them to move forward with making different choices in their life. Most specifically, getting immunized. 

Ben: It’s another kind of post on the subreddit that gets a LOT of upvotes. Images of hands, holding vaccine cards, with simple titles.

[PRODUCERS READ ALOUD SUBREDDIT TITLES]

One month ago I was a avid anti-vaxxer. After just a week of browsing on this sub, I have decided to get vaccinated. HCA saves lives.

Everyone in my house is extremely anti-vax but this subreddit pushed me to get secretly vaccinated, thanks guys

I got vaccinated today after scrolling through this sub for a few days. I wish more people who refuse to vaccinate would just see these stories. I don't want to die or spread any illness that will take the lives of others.

Amory: These posts are anonymous, though Hammy says the moderators do a lot of work to verify them. And they’re far less frequent than the posts calling out people who have died of COVID for not getting vaccinated.

So it’s still not crystal clear to us, on balance, whether the subreddit hurts or helps. Getting Hammy and Glenn together for a conversation would have been something. The offer on our end still stands.

Ben: If you, like us, are a little unsure what to think of all of this, we’d like to leave you with something that feels relevant. It’s something the communities namesake said, before he passed away. Herman Cain. He was technically quoting the Pokémon Movie, so it’s not an original thought. But in this time where we’re all communicating our feelings via Facebook memes and internet comments. It feels appropriate.

Cain: I believe these words came from the Pokémon Movie. Life can be a challenge. Life can seem impossible. It’s never when there’s so much on the line. But you and I can make a difference.

Ben: Endless Thread is a production of WBUR in Boston.

Amory: Want early tickets to events, swag, bonus content? Ben’s campaign videos, my Facebook screen shots? Join OUR email list! You’ll find it at wbur.org/endlessthread.

Ben: This episode was written by THIS GUY but it was conceptualized, produced, and taken home by Quincy Walters. And it’s hosted by us, Ben Brock Johnson…

Amory: And Amory Sivertson. Mix and Sound Design by Matt Reed. Additional help from Paul Vaitkus.

Ben: Editing help from Maureen McMurray. Our web producer is Megan Cattel. The rest of our team is Nora Saks, Dean Russell Meera Raman, Emily Jankowski, and Grace Tatter.

Amory: Endless Thread is a show about the blurred lines between digital communities and THE HERMAN CAIN TRAIN. If you’ve got an untold history, an unsolved mystery, or a wild story from the internet that you want us to tell, hit us up. Email Endless Thread at WBUR dot ORG.

Quincy Walters Twitter Producer, WBUR Podcasts
Quincy Walters is a producer for WBUR Podcasts.

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Ben Brock Johnson Twitter Executive Producer, Podcasts
Ben Brock Johnson is the executive producer of podcasts at WBUR and co-host of the podcast Endless Thread.

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Amory Sivertson Twitter Senior Producer, Podcasts
Amory Sivertson is a senior producer for podcasts and the co-host of Endless Thread.

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