Lenny’s been having a tough time. First, there was the car crash. A bystander mentioned he was all proper, just a bit banged up, however he nonetheless needed to go to the hospital. A good friend tried to cowl for him, saying he was texting whereas driving, however everybody on the town is aware of Lenny has a consuming downside, an issue that’s solely gotten worse since he misplaced his side gig as a gravedigger. Some townspeople felt unhealthy and introduced him a bouquet of magnolias within the hospital. It seems, he was largely fearful about his pet baby raccoons, so one sort soul promised to deal with them for him. Once he received out of the hospital, he largely dropped off the map, however that wasn’t too uncommon — Lenny Crabbitz is all the time a tricky man to search out.
But don’t really feel too unhealthy for Lenny; he doesn’t actually exist. Lenny’s only a figment of the collective creativeness behind /r/HaveWeMet, an often obscene subreddit the place full strangers invent on-line personas and fake to know each other. There at the moment are sufficient figments to fill a whole city, dubbed Lake Duck Pond. Niall O’Neill runs an Irish bar known as Pot O’ Beer on Sorenson Street, whereas Ty is the park ranger at King’s Falls National Park. Meanwhile, on 13th Old Street, the mysterious Zack runs a store known as From Beyond, which has been tenuously linked to the occult. There’s a weatherman who posts every day updates on the circumstances in order that residents will know if they need to deliver an umbrella after they depart their fictional homes within the morning. He’s such a star that he even has a merch shop.
Created by /u/Devuluh, HaveWeMet is filled with tales like Lenny’s, all invented by the sub’s customers. “I used to spend an unbelievable amount of time on Reddit,” Devuluh says, “and would often passively come up with ideas for subreddits in my head.” After noticing a variety of threads the place folks posted feedback like “it’s me ur brother,” Devuluh grew to become interested by whether or not a group existed the place customers pretended to know each other. “I requested on /r/findareddit if such a group existed, and after discovering out it didn’t, I created it.”
The first members got here from the FindAReddit thread. So many rushed to subscribe that HaveWeMet made it onto the trending record the subsequent day, bringing much more customers. Two years later, Lake Duck Pond counts 82,200 members, roughly the identical inhabitants of Sioux City, Iowa.
As the city has grown, so have the facilities. Earlier this week, it was introduced that Lake Duck Pond was within the technique of staging a reopening for its library. The announcement got here from the city librarian, and it reads as follows:
I do know it’s been empty and deserted for fairly a while, however it you swing spherical it is best to discover the constructing to be refurbished and filled with books as soon as once more. I might be working because the librarian, so don’t be afraid to say hello. Also, relating to a number of the rumours concerning the mysterious symbols on the sidewalk, I can guarantee you the Library is completely protected and open to the general public. I haven’t seen and even have any data of any occult actions going down round right here. I sit up for seeing you all down right here!
This sort of publish isn’t out of the bizarre for HaveWeMet, however as Devuluh sees it, probably the most fascinating stuff occurs when a number of customers begin to play off one another. When that occurs, you get his favourite sort of thread, “the ones that span across multiple posts from different users, and have long, drawn-out stories.”
This is the place HaveWeMet really begins to resemble extra standard types of role-playing. At the beginning, it was a enjoyable experiment the place folks would publish as soon as, possibly twice, after which neglect about their function. Like a long-running D&D marketing campaign or an enormous RPG, HaveWeMet has turn into a collaborative challenge — solely this challenge is shared between tens of 1000’s of individuals, a few of whom are so lively locally that they’ve turn into an integral a part of its existence. The result’s a huge text-based role-play marketing campaign the place everyone seems to be Dungeon Master, and the world’s delivery and persevering with survival are immediately tied to cooperation.
Like any long-running sequence, HaveWeMet has impressed a number of spinoffs. /r/WillWeMeet is a variant of HaveWeMet set sooner or later, and /r/LakeWobegon, a sub reserved for extra serious-minded role-play. Perhaps probably the most fascinating spinoff is /r/HaveWeMeta, which is strictly supposed for meta-commentary on HaveWeMet. Users are making up guidelines on the identical time they’re making up tales, which may trigger critical issues if not everybody has the identical guidelines in thoughts. In one current battle, a person was upset that someone was pretending to be their character’s daughter. The person had been planning to create an alt account and role-play her as effectively, however another person swooped in earlier than that they had the prospect. “I know it’s not against the rules to pretend to play someone that’s a family member,” they wrote. “But when I made the character and made the mini plot/post, I just feel like it’s shitty to pretend to be a character I created? Am I overreacting?”
“We even have a ‘Town Council’ for members who want to talk with other members, or discuss concerns and feedback for the sub itself,” Devuluh says.
Mostly, although, HaveWeMet lets customers play with the principles of on-line id itself. There aren’t many nameless areas left on the web, and the place they’ve survived, communities are all the time looking out for impostors accounts. On many of the web, making a sock-puppet account will get you banned — however HaveWeMet embraces it.
Visitors appear to thrive on the offbeat creativity of the setup. “I like posting because it’s essentially a massive exercise in improvisation,” mentioned one person, who posts as native librarian Colin Thesaurus. He in contrast it to Welcome to Night Vale — the favored Lovecraftian podcast — however it’s collectively authored, one thread at a time. “It’s a tone I love, and something that keeps bringing me back to the subreddit.”
Like improv, the riffs are usually self-reinforcing. When the sub realized you could possibly role-play as animals, customers went all-in: Ulysses the alpaca (an precise individual) was elected mayor, then changed by none aside from Bruce the Moose. Others begin goat choirs alongside salamander breeders and literal ducks.
The chaos appears to deliver folks collectively. Weatherman John Levee, one of the outstanding posters within the sub, mentioned he’s drawn to the sense of camaraderie within the city. “The community is lovely, all of this free-form, unrestricted posting,” they mentioned. “It’s interesting to see how people interact when you aren’t given a backstory, or a character, only the post, and the knowledge that it’s happening in a small town where everybody knows everybody.”
That group could be a uncommon factor. Levee compares it to listening to group radio as a baby within the UK, getting broadcasts from a tiny city within the Midwestern US. “I live in the UK, where the idea of having a radio station for a single town was strange,” he advised me. “Although I never visited this town, the quirky small-town-ish-ness of the place was something I enjoyed. Odd folks who all lived in the same place, where everybody seemed to know everybody.”