By all appearances, r/short, Reddit’s community for short people, is an overwhelmingly positive and motivational subreddit. It’s brimming with posts about finding love, overcoming adversity, and of course, memes.
Behind the scenes, however, moderators are constantly fending off an onslaught of vitriol, mostly from incels. “We’ve had to adopt a fairly stringent incel-free-zone policy,” one of the subreddit’s moderators, Bikerbats, explains. “It’s all guys from a number of subs that I can count on one hand who are responsible for 90 percent of the problems.” According to Bikerbats, incels are drawn to r/short because it’s an easy target. Often, their posts will seem innocuous at first, but subtly reinforce ideas that society (read: women) are to blame for short men’s problems. Other times, the subtlety is pretty much nonexistent:
This, though, is but one challenge that short men face in a tall man’s world. There’s also the top shelf, the Napoleon Complex and the self-esteem issues that necessitated r/short in the first place. But in helping build a community of small but mighty men, Bikerbats has learned a number of invaluable lessons.
* * * * *
The short guy is such an ingrained trope that few people get out of childhood without hearing about it. It’s one of those things where the jabs are rarely subtle. Some guys are able to turn those jabs into humor, which I think is one of the best strategies. But a lot of other guys have a real problem with that strategy — they see it as clowning or being a short jester.
Pop culture has always poked at short guys, but the real dangers to self-esteem came with the internet. In the real world, I’m the short one, and I have to deal with that. But on the internet, there’s a certain kind of neurosis that renders people incapable of action. They’re trapped in a thought loop, reinforcing each other’s ideas no matter how wacky.
That is to say, online, I can surround myself with other guys who want to do nothing but lament our lack of stature. Nothing positive comes of that.
The most heartbreaking thing that happens has to be the people who come here looking for support only to find 5-foot-8 people crying about their size. I got news for them: 5-foot-8 isn’t short.
My goal is to show the youngest among us that it’s not the end of the world. It’s just a lack of inches, it’s not going to destroy your life. Now, sitting behind your computer and obsessing over your height 24/7 might destroy your life. But your height alone isn’t going to do it.
Those who overcome their self-esteem issues always start by getting offline and going outside. Which makes the subreddit, unfortunately, heavily weighted toward the sensitive souls who were unable to effectively deal with their bullies.
Speaking of bullies, if you want to smother out the incels, start with their language. When you deny them their vocabulary (foids, Chads, betabux, etc.) their ideas are instantly laid bare. It’s all ludicrous when presented in common parlance. After that, if someone with a heavy ‘cel history acts up, they’ll get banned without warning.
As for me, I’ve always enjoyed being small. I’m so remarkably small, in fact, that it’s always made me stand out and draw attention. And so, I learned very early on how to both embrace that and make it work for me.