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Egg-cellent if true: How a viral Reddit post fooled thousands online26:09
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When a colleague sent us a viral Reddit post from WallStreetBets, we set out to investigate. A redditor who goes by u/throwmetfawaythanks tricked thousands into thinking he cashed in on Fresh Hen Egg Futures, and had an impending delivery of fifty tons of eggs. By a rough estimate, that’s nearly one million eggs.

But many people on Twitter and Reddit didn’t realize the post had s**tpost flair in WallStreetBets. In fact, a quick glean from u/throwmetfawaythanks' Reddit history shows that all his posts are s**tposts.

This week, u/throwmetfawaythanks—who we call Eggman—is on Endless Thread to discuss his s**tposting ways. What is a s**tpost? What was the real inspiration behind the fifty ton egg story? We also get into some ableist language that runs rampant in certain corners of Reddit, and try to get to know the man behind the Reddit account—beyond the s**tposting.

Talking about s**tposts is tricky because anonymity is often fundamental to the s**posts themselves. For this reason and also because he was concerned about the reaction of his employer, our interviewee would not go on the record with his full name.

Show notes

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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. 

[Listener Advisory Warning]

Ben Brock Johnson: Hey guys, little heads up. This episode deals with an internet term that is just a bad word. And you’re going to hear a lot of that bad word during this episode. And we just wanted you to know that. So get ready. Earmuffs, or not. Here’s the show.

Ben: Amory, we've been talking about the internet for like five years, and, you know what we've never really talked about?

Amory Sivertson: Uhhh…..

Ben: Don't, don't hurt yourself.

Amory: I don't know what could we possibly have not talked about at this point?

Ben: One of the main genres of Reddit post.

Amory: A good old fashioned s**tpost?

Ben: That's right.

Eggman, u/throwmetfawaythanks: I view it as a post that is like...slightly sarcastic and meant, meant to be in a sarcastic way, but also meant to, like, make almost a vain attempt to come across seriously.

Ben: Now, this kind of post is NOT a troll, technically. Trolling is a little more purposeful in riling specific people up. This is more of a low-effort, tossed off, thing. And earlier this month, one of our colleagues sent us something. It was a tweet that was getting a lot of attention, but the tweet was just a screenshot of a Reddit post and the Reddit post got a lot more attention.

Amory: And then we got the author of the post's attention among his mountain of direct messages.

Eggman: I, I didn't really answer any of them. I just kind of left them on read. This is one of the only DMs I answered, or actually might have been the only DM I answered, your guys'.

Ben: Wow! I feel lucky.

Ben: On Reddit, or at least the account he used to post this particular post, this person is known as throw me t-f away thanks.

Amory: Yep, that's definitely a throwaway account used to post things you don't want traced back to your regular Reddit history of posts and comments, et cetera.

Ben: Also hard to pronounce, so we're going to call this person "Eggman."

Amory: Eggmen? (Laughs.)

Ben: (Laughs.)

Amory: That's my favorite thing to do, and I was like, Cheeseman, I'm like Cheesemen?

Ben: (Laughs.)

Amory: We're going to call him Eggman/Eggmen, because...

Ben: Because he didn't want to give us his identity on the record. And he says that's because, well, he basically traffics in s**tposts.

Amory: Right. But also, Eggman is very fitting to the post.

Ben: Which he will read for us now.

Eggman: Can I refuse delivery on 50 tons of egg futures? So I went a bit overboard with DCE JD contracts, fresh hen egg futures. I took a bunch of drugs and my friend had a bird. And I don't know why, but it made me think of bird flu strain coming this year, so I got a s**t ton of contracts. Turns out I hit the lottery as farmers across the nation massacred their chicken stocks because of the bird flu. I got in at about thirty seven fifty a contract and cashed out at four thousand four hundred. I apparently did not get all my contracts out and now I have people contacting me saying I need to take physical delivery of 10 contracts. A contract is five metric tons of eggs. I live in an apartment. I cannot take delivery on 50 tons of eggs. What do I do? I made a killing so I can hire whoever I need to make this go away. But can someone help me? I do not want 50 tons of eggs coming to my door. Would it be illegal for me to list delivery address as the nearest Federal Reserve building? For reference/perspective, there are between 11 or 1,174 and 2,381 dozen eggs in a single ton. This puts me at approximately 720,000 to 1.2 million eggs. I am really stressing out over the logistics of how the f*** I'd ship out this many eggs to shelters. It would have to be so many shelters.

Edit: Those of you DMing me, such as commenting, offering to buy my eggs. There is a zero percent chance I'm doing business with anyone autistic enough to use this sub. Somehow we'd find a way to both lose massive money.

Ben: Um, okay, so a couple of things jump out to me. So do you live in an apartment?

Eggman: I do.

Ben: Why the Federal Reserve building? That seems like a, sort of like a libertarian dog whistle or something.

Eggman: Yeah, that's that's the, that's the intent.

Ben: Ehh, like say more. The intent is? 

Eggman: Uh, I have a personal bone to pick with them, I guess. (Laughs).

Ben: Okay.

Eggman: If if, I suppose, was in the situation, I may genuinely consider that option.

Ben: 'Kay, um so, sorry. So you have a personal bone to pick with the Federal Reserve or with libertarians?

Eggman: With the Federal Reserve. 

Ben: Because you're a libertarian.

Eggman: Uh, in some ways, monetarily yes.

Ben: ‘Kay, got it. And then you said autistic, is that right?

Eggman: I did.

Ben: Yeah. Say, say more about that.

Eggman: Um, that is going back years on WallStreetBets. It's kind of like the original. I believe now, since the GameStop thing, they're, they're calling themselves apes a lot now. But originally it was everybody said that they were autists or everybody was autistic, you know, they're all losing money. It was just one of the original terms used to describe the users of the subreddit.

Ben: Uh-huh.

Eggman: I think it's still used to an extent, but I don't see it as often anymore.

Ben: The suggestion being what?

Eggman: The the the the people, I mean, that that, they also would say, like r*****s like that, just your you have to be r******* to make the kind of plays people make on the subreddit.

Ben: Uh-huh. Are you autistic?

Eggman: No.

Ben: ‘Kay. My sense is sometimes people are self-identifying as, as, you know, I'm not going to say it, the r-word, right? Like their self- identifying is the r-word or, or as someone with autism. Is that right, on WallStreetBets?

Eggman: I don’t—I wouldn't say self-identifying. I think it's it's being used in a s**tpost manner like it's it's it's sarcastic.

Ben: Got it

Eggman: It's offensive, of course. But I mean, a lot of, a lot of s**tposting is offensive, I guess.

Ben: And purposefully so.

Eggman: Right.

Ben: Yeah, um.

Eggman: Not in a hateful way. It's not meant to to shame those kinds of people, I believe at one point the community donated a bunch of money to some kind of autism fund or something.

Ben: 'Kay. Yeah, that's like tricky, tricky territory, right? Like, it's like, uh…

Eggman: It is. And I can definitely see why people would, will get upset by that. Um, I mean it, it is.

Ben: Right. It's like a purposeful use of a word that is, or a description that is offensive to a number, a group of people that is effectively marginalized.

Eggman: Sure, yes, yeah.

Amory: Whoa. I'm glad you called him out on that Ben because…

Ben: It's a little complicated. It's pretty complicated to use hateful speech and then say, "But you know, it's not being used in a hateful way."

Amory: Yeah, just don't do it. There's no—don't, don't explain it away, I'm more in the camp of like, “Hey, don't do it. No excuses.”

Ben: Same.

Amory: But also the also the the story at the center of this is bananas, if true or it's eggs, if true, wrong food group.

Ben: (Laughs.) Um, egg-cellent if true. Another interesting thing about this post, is that it’s almost a Reddit post meme, it turns out.

Amory: Hmm.

Ben: So it's a story that’s been copied and tweaked and pasted, like that thing they call a copypasta, right?

Amory: Mhm.

Ben: That’s what Eggman did. He based this post off of ANOTHER user who posted something very similar almost a year and a half ago.

Eggman: The exact date escapes me but he posted in the same subreddit that he took a bunch of futures out on gourds, and he was gonna be getting a large shipment of gourds to his house, and he wanted to know how to turn a profit on all the gourds he was getting.

Ben: (Laughs.)

Eggman: It was a copypasta I saw on—I don't even remember what subreddit was on, but somebody made a post about it and it reminded me of it, and I just kind of put my own twist on it because Easter was coming up.

Ben: You're keeping it going on a different holiday. It's good.

Eggman: Yeah. I mean, as low effort as possible for a s**tpost right, just take someone else's work and change the holiday.

Ben: (Laughs.) Can you talk a little bit about your Reddit diet and like what you spend your time on on Reddit? Like what are you doing as a user, generally speaking?

Eggman: Um, I would say I'm pretty active. My favorite subreddits are, of course, WallStreetBets. I like Political Compass Memes a lot. I mean, the general meme channel is good. I would say those are my main active subreddits that I like comment in, I browse all the the popular, the popular like mainstream subreddits. I stay away from like the political ones, but outside, well, Political Compass Memes—

Ben: I'm going to admit that I am not familiar with Political Compass. Is this like just one specific meme genre, or what is this?

Eggman: Yeah, it's like, I don't know if you've ever seen like the the political compass, where it's got like the the red, the blue, the green and the yellow squares in each quadrant.

So top left is red, bottom left is green, top right is blue, top, top bottom right is yellow and then it's like authorian (authoritarian) is the top axis, libertarian is the bottom, the left axis as economic left, the right axis is economic right. So it's, it's it's a subreddit where people put memes over that compass and um, it's kind of like they're they're stereotypically as they're like, or as stereotypical of whatever quadrant you could be. So like the anyone posting in, like the the bottom left quadrant will be very like, sarcastically like over the top social justice warrior, the bottom right would be like, you know, you're Rockefeller type capitalist child labor kind of meme stuff.

Ben: Got it. What are most of your posts? Like, what's the content of most of your posts usually?

Eggman: I mean s**tposts usually. (Laughs.) ‘Cause I just I don't take like typically a serious angle with my posts. I'll even go into like, I don't know, I like to go into a libertarian meme subreddit and post sarcastic memes in there, even though that's not something I would say typically. And I'll post something in there that I don't really believe in just to get them riled up, stuff like that. I don’t know, I like to see people’s reactions.

Ben: So you would describe a fair amount of your posting as effectively s**tposting, right?

Eggman: I would describe all of my posting on Reddit as that. (Laughs.)

Ben: (Laughs.) And why? Why like why? Why do you do? Why do you like, tell me more about your motivation for that?

Eggman Um…boredom, perhaps uh. I think it's funny watching people believe it, especially with the latest one that we're—we’ll discuss.

Ben: Yeah.

Eggman: I don't know, I just think why does a troll troll? I don’t know.  Just it's—I enjoy it. It's a hobby, I suppose. (Laughs.)

Ben: More on Eggman’s hobby, in a minute.

[SPONSOR BREAK]

Ben: So Amory, you’ve met Eggman. You’ve heard about his s**tposting hobby.

A: Eggmen, yes.

Ben: Eggmen. How do you feel about this person right now?

Amory: I'm pretty confused, I mean, I'd say this person contains multitudes. I'm not sure, that, that I need to explore all of those multitudes but…

Ben: Yeah.

Amory: You kind of just want to sit down and figure out where exactly they came from and where are they coming from?

Ben: Yeah.

Amory: Yeah, I'm a little puzzled.

Ben: Yeah, I mean, I had some pretty mixed feelings about this, Eggman. And I think a key thing to understand here is that the post is complete B.S. right? And, and yet it convinced a ton of people that it was real.

Eggman: There's a shocking number of WallStreetBets users who ship eggs for a living.

Ben: (Laughs.) So, yeah, so that's a question like, what were the people who are actually in the egg business, so to speak, what were they saying to you?

Eggman: Oh, they were just like, you know, like, what state are you in? I run a distribution business, blah blah blah. They’re trying to make, set up business deals, basically, or I got a lot of messages saying like, I'll take a dozen eggs for free.

Ben: (Laughs.) Well, these, those sound like genuine, heartfelt, you know, trying to help you out.

Eggman: Yeah, maybe one or two people, but there's like a hundred something. I find it hard to believe that that many people are in the business of distributing fifty tons of eggs and browsing this subreddit.

Ben: But like, did this cause you to have any deep thoughts?

Eggman: Ah, no. I mean, I was just kind of taken aback by how many people thought it was genuine. Deep thoughts maybe on the future of humanity for intelligence-wise.

Ben: So Eggman sort of says this gives him a lack of faith in humanity, but also thousands of people responded to him trying to help him deal with these tons of eggs that were about to be delivered to his porch. A publication in India wrote this up as if it was like a dead serious thing and actually gave like, investing advice and information about investing in egg futures. This went all the way across the ocean, all the way to India, in terms of its popularity. People were responding from all over the place, like sending him messages, direct messages, trying to help Eggman deal with this supposed disaster that was on his hands. Even though his post was, of course, complete B.S.

Ben: Some of them, it sounds like they were genuinely trying to help you, right?

Eggman: Oh yeah, I would say the majority. It restores my faith in humanity in a way that people are so willing to help out a complete stranger with a completely ridiculous issue that they have only themselves to blame for it, right? But—

Ben: Yeah.

Eggman: In another way, it concerns me that like people don't take the time, like with how often people use the internet these days, they don't take the time to like to think, or verify, to fact-check anything. They just take it at face value.

Ben:  So it's like complicated, right? Like it's like, you're like, “I can't believe people will believe anything!" But you're also contributing in some ways, one could make the argument right, that you're contributing to the fact that people believe less and less, right?

Eggman: Well, I don't think that's a bad thing, though, right? I would, I would prefer people be skeptical of what they see on the internet and take the time to, to fact-check things rather than just see a headline and take it at face value, or see a random post on Reddit and take it at face value.

Ben: Right. So, yeah, so say more about that. Like, like, how come? Like, what kind of like increased skepticism would you like to see, like how would you like to see—would you have preferred, for instance, people to have like downvoted you into oblivion and commented a bunch like basically like calling you an idiot because this would never happen and like saying that your, your, your post is complete B.S. Like, would that have made you feel better?

Eggman: No, I wouldn't say that. It's not like I'm on some like grand mission to destroy internet disinformation or something.

Ben: Right.

Eggman: It's just like, you know, if we're going to think about it, I'm like that kind of scale, I suppose, like, that's what, that's what I take from it, like it worries me that that people will believe anything that they, they read online. To me, it's I'm just posting it to have a laugh and like, send it to a couple of my friends and we’ll all have a laugh on it.

Ben: Are, are you a libertarian, would you like a politically identify as a libertarian?

Eggman: I, I, suppose if you if you wanted to put me, like if you're considering, like what, Republican, Democrat, and that as the three boxes, I would fall into that box, there's a lot of things that the party agrees with that I would probably disagree with. But—

Ben: ‘Kay.

Eggman: I fall more into that box and other boxes.

Ben: Yeah.  I wanna know what you care about. Like, what do you care about? What do you believe in?

Eggman: I believe in…maximum individual freedom, I guess? But not, not to the point of like, anarchy or like no government. I wouldn't say that.

Ben: ‘Kay.

Eggman: You know, I like a government. I would just shrink the government, I suppose? But I also—

Ben: Okay.

Eggman: I don't want people to think I'm like a Trumper or something, I am very, very left wing socially, but right wing economically, you could classify me maybe, which I know⁠—

Ben: Sure.

Eggman: Makes people jump to libertarian, but I think that they may go too far on some things like completely open borders, for example. I wouldn't, I wouldn't want that.

Ben: Yeah. What's something that like, what's an issue that you really care about that you think is really important?

Eggman: A specific issue?

Ben: Yeah.

Eggman: Hmm.

Ben: Or I mean, like I'm describing this stuff in political terms like "issue," right? Like, but like, you know, like, I have a family, so I have kids, so like, something that's really important to me is that like, my kids get opportunities and that they get a good education, right? Like, that's a thing I believe in. Uh, I'm not, I'm not a big fan of war. I don't think that war serves anyone. I'm effectively a pacifist—

Eggman: I would agree.

Ben: So that is something.

Eggman: I would agree there.

Ben: So like, yeah, so tell me some stuff that you feel strongly about.

Eggman: Uh, hmm. I want to be careful how I word things, bear with me, I don't want to come across—

Ben: Sure. 

Eggman: Poorly.

Ben: I mean, the reason the reason like to be clear, like the reason that I'm asking you this right is that like we think that this story was really like, I thought this post was really funny, right? And like, and the reaction that it got was like, it wasn't like massive, right? You're not like the most famous like, you know, s**tposter on Reddit this week, even probably, right? But like, it sort of popped off. And so like to me, that's just an interesting story in and of itself, but I also want to like… you described your sort of online behavior as, as, you know, majority s**tposting so like, that can be a very safe space to be in, if that makes sense, right? Like, you're not really kind of like attaching emotion to what you're putting into the world if you're s**tposting right?

Eggman: Right.

Ben: So like, I guess what I'm curious about is like, who, what do you feel emotion about? Like what are the things that you like really care deeply about? What are the things that you're like, is there something that you're like really willing to stick your neck out for? Is there someone who you care about who like, defines a specific issue? Do you have somebody in your life who represents something that you actually would like that you would not s**tpost for, that you would actually put up a very heartfelt post on behalf of, or that you would do some other kind of act for? Does that make sense?

Eggman: Yeah, I used to post when I was living on the East Coast, I used to post a lot about the lack of gun rights in the state I lived in. So I guess you could say I care a lot about that.

Ben: ‘Kay.

Eggman: My, my main philosophy, I guess, in life, is that I just want to be, left alone to do, do my own thing, as long as I don't harm anyone else or stop anyone else from doing what's their, they want to do. You know, live and let live kind of thing like your whole pacifism thing, I definitely agree with a lot. Um...just think everybody is too worried about what everybody else is doing and we need to, especially from like a governmental standpoint, would like to…

Ben: Yeah. Let other people be. Do you have like a family, do you have people in your life who you’re close to, are you—?

Eggman: I have a wife, I have a dog.

Ben: ‘Kay.

Eggman: I have siblings, I have parents. We're all close.

Ben: Cool.

Eggman: I’m a happy guy. I live a life off the internet. (Laughs.)

Ben: Does your wife read your s** tposts?

Eggman: I showed her this one because, you know, I was going on here. And I was just telling her I need the room for, for the night. And she, she didn't understand it. She was just like, "I don't understand why they want to talk to you."

Ben: (Laughs.)

Ben: All right, Amory, how do we feel? What do you got for me?

Amory: All right. Well, on this show, we talk about the blurring of the lines between our online communities and lives and selves and our offline communities and lives and selves, right?

Ben: Yeah, and how, like increasingly, they're the same thing.

Amory: Exactly. And so who you are online, obviously says something about who you are offline. And Eggman, for someone who probably spends a lot of time online, he kind of seems to be treating his online actions as if they happen in a vacuum.

Ben: Mhm.

Amory: But if he wants to be this kind of live and let live guy politically, but then he also wants to poke people and rile them up on Reddit just for the sake of it, that's, I think that needs a little, that's worthy of a hmm.

Ben: r/hmm?

Amory: Mhm. And because he comes across as a pretty cynical person, I guess the last thing that I'd want to ask him is just like, “Eggman, what brings you joy?”

Ben: Mmm.

Amory: You know what I'm saying?

Ben: Yeah, I do. And I, you know, it's interesting, like, I think we make assumptions about folks who do this kind of posting. And we think of them as somebody in their basement in their mom's basement yelling for chicken tendees. You know, social pariahs who are increasing the toxicity of the world, but Eggman doesn't strike me as that.

Amory: Mhm.

Ben: And actually, I don't think anyone is really like that, but we're all full humans with actual depth.

Amory: Yeah.

Ben: And I agree, I agree with you to like,  it's just complicated when you think about the impact. So did you see the other famous s**post of the week—

Amory: No.

Ben: About the snickers vein. So it was someone pretending, they made a fake news headline about Snickers removing the quote unquote vein from the top of Snickers—

Amory: What?

Ben: Because it you know, was phallic—

Amory: (Laughs.)

Ben: Essentially to have the like chocolate ripple, which looks like a vein. And yeah, so like this enraged the political right, people freaked out because it was like, removing the gender of the Snickers bar.

And I think like Eggman look, I'm gonna say Eggman's post is like, relatively innocuous compared to the Snickers vein. Right? But like, this stuff has like, a real impact.

And so like Eggman I think would say like, listen, we all need to get better at identifying BS online and and we all need to get more skeptical, and to a certain degree, I agree with that. But at the same time, I just I don't know man, I don't know if this stuff, if this stuff is helping or hurting our ability to understand each other.

Amory: Yeah, well, I stand by my first statement about Eggman which is that he contains multitudes so I agree with you on that. And I, I know that he is more than, than this post and even what we have gotten into in this conversation, and I guess that's—I do genuinely want to know what what makes him happy to be alive and if that is as spreadable—

Ben: Yeah.

Amory: As the content that he is currently used to spreading that's all I'm saying.

Ben: I'm looking for that Eggman post on Wholesome Memes or something like that, you know.

Amory: Yeah, gimme the joy, Eggman!

Ben: Post some of your dog footage on Eyebleach, Eggman. Make us feel joy at its cuteness.

All right. Well, that's it for this week, y'all. We'll be back with another episode next week. And, you know, while you're out there, don't try to save somebody who's talking about egg futures.

Amory: Be EGG-cellent to each other.

Ben: Ohhhh, that's what we were looking for...indeed. Okay, bye!

Amory: Goodbye!

Editor's note: this post has been updated to reflect the reason that our episode's interviewee was granted anonymity. WBUR's ethical guidelines call for the rare cases where we do protect a source's identity, that we describe that source as clearly as we can without identifying them, as well as the reason for protecting their identity. WBUR's ethical guidelines can be accessed here.

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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Megan Cattel Twitter Freelance digital producer, WBUR Podcasts
Megan Cattel is a freelance digital producer for WBUR Podcasts.

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