11 of the Best AMAs
Reddit, the self-described “Front Page of the Internet,” is an online content aggregator that relies on user-submitted posts, upvotes, and downvotes to organize and promote the daily comings and goings of the Internet at large.
Founded in 2005, the site has since hosted millions of posts from all over the world. It’s the de-facto home to all things good, bad, interesting, and strange.
The website is organized by subreddits, which serve as landing spots for, well… anything and everything. There’s a subreddit for cat lovers, dog lovers, fitness freaks, et cetera. Today, we’re going to focus on the “Ask Me Anything,” subreddit, or r/AMA for short.
On r/AMA, users typically introduce themselves, explain their field of expertise, and field questions from people from all over the world. Celebrities, athletes, scientists, and regular people do them all the time. Some of them are awful, while some of them are endlessly fascinating.
1. Stephen Hawking
Some AMAs are purposefully stupid. Others, however, are very, very smart.
In October of 2005, the late, great Stephen Hawking graced us, mere mortals of the Internet, with an AMA of epic proportions.
Over the course of this incredibly in-depth discussion, Hawking touched on the impending threat of artificial intelligence, evolution, technological-induced inequality, and television. We found out that Hawkings’s favorite song is by Rod Stewart, we discovered that he thoroughly enjoys The Big Bang Theory, and we learned that the technological robotic revolution will leave us all destitute. Good times indeed.
2. 97-Year-Old Husband and His 102-Year-Old Wife
Not all average-joe-AMAs involve sad and horrifying stories. This one, featuring a 97-year-old Husband, his 102-year-old wife, and their grandchildren, brought the Internet together over history, love, and survival.
The couple met during World War II, survived Nazi occupation, and enjoyed their post-war life of freedom together. Their unique perspective invited a range of questions and they answered most of the great ones. They talk about the:
- Difference between life then and life now;
- Incredible way that they met, and;
- Secret to sustaining their incredibly long relationship.
3. Barack Obama
An oldie but a goodie.
Back in 2012, then-President Barack Obama took a break from the campaign trail to field several questions from the Reddit community. I repeat, the President of the United States sat down to answer questions on an online forum that was made famous by way of memes and pictures of cats.
Over the span of a half an hour — the President’s time is tight — Obama touched on corruption, White House beer, his difficult decision to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan, his love for Michael Jordan, the need for a free Internet, and more.
The Obama AMA skyrocketed Reddit’s credibility. In fact, it’s largely responsible for the ever-growing number of AMAs happening today.
4. Daryl Davis
Daryl Davis’ story is truly remarkable. The musician/actor stormed on to the cultural main stage, not through his music, but through his community involvement. You see, Daryl Davis has spent countless hours befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan. No small feat for an African American. Davis’ journey is the subject of the incredible Netflix documentary Accidental Courtesy.
Davis’ AMA was as spectacular as you could possibly imagine. Notable takeaways from this inspiring Q&A include:
- Detailed thoughts on how he convinced over 200 KKK members to renounce their views,
- His views on the difference between ignorance and stupidity, and
- The dangers of generalizing human interaction.
5. Anonymous Cult Member
While many of Reddit’s greatest AMAs feature celebrities, not all of them. Some feature relative unknowns who share their out-of-the-ordinary experiences.
For instance, an anonymous Reddit user set up her AMA by describing her incredibly unique upbringing. She described being born into a small, Bible-based cult in the U.S. that centered around the community’s leader and pastor.
What followed was a sobering discussion about the reality of cult life. We learned about:
- Her harrowing escape;
- The manipulation techniques the cult used to prevent adults from fleeing, and;
- The user’s struggle to maintain contact with her family despite said family still being cult members.
6. Bill Gates
Tech impresario and philanthropist Bill Gates has a bit of a history with the front page of the Internet. There was the time that he participated in the website’s Secret Santa game and awarded an unknowing Reddit user with an insane Microsoft prize pack.
The man also has a history of doing AMAs. He’s done five to date. All of which is worth the read, but we’ll focus on his latest one for simplicity sake. In it, we learn about his concern for rising American health care costs, that he’s looking forward to a day when computers can read like humans, and his belief that cryptocurrencies accomplish more bad than good.
7. 15-Year-Old Guy Who Was Falsely Accused of Rape
This one currently sits atop the most popular AMA list — and for good reason. This is the stuff of nightmares. At the time, the 15-year-old boy from Perth, Australia was accused, convicted, and served time for rape.
What follows is a terrifying, honest perspective of daily prison life. Being a convicted rapist in prison is rough, and the boy’s experience mirrors that. He describes seeing his false-accuser later in life, the effect the incident had on his relationships, and a lot more.
8. Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg can do just about everything. Music, movies, television, sports, and AMAs!
Back in 2012, the DEE-OH-DOUBLE-GEE submitted himself to a Q&A with the questions of the Internet. Going by the moniker Snoop Lion, the legendary rapper was in top form.
The Internet learned that:
- Snoop not-so-secretly loves K-pop;
- His greatest achievement was utilizing his SYFL football league to help keep kids off of the streets, and;
- Dave Chapelle is better at smoking weed than Dr. Dre.
9. Elon Musk
Elon Musk is no stranger to the Internet. So, it’s no surprise that he sat down for an AMA in October of 2017. The pretext of this particular AMA was that Musk was there to discuss the SpaceX BFR, the reusable rocket designed by his space exploration company.
Elon spent quite a bit of time discussing his Mars exploration plans, the ins-and-outs of rocketry, design specs of the BFR, and much more. Though many may find it hard to grasp much of the conversation, it’s still remarkable.
It’s like having a one-on-one with Nikola Tesla. Creating opportunities like that is exactly what makes Reddit so darn cool.
10. Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler knows little about rockets and may never be the President, but her AMA provided the Internet with a welcome chance to discuss her celebrated comedic career. From SNL’s Weekend Update desk, to movies, to sitcoms, to books, Poehler really has accomplished it all.
Notable highlights include:
- Amy’s favorite dinosaur;
- The difficulty of playing Parks and Recreation character Leslie Knope, and;
- A surprising description of what Adam Scott smells like in real life.
11. The Person Who Finished an Entire ChapStick Without Losing It
As serious and inspiring as a lot of the most popular AMAs are, it’s important to recognize the other side of the coin.
This anonymous user boldly claimed to have finished an entire ChapStick without losing it. Now I get it, Daryl Davis may have freed over 200 KKK members from the psychological shackles of racism… but finishing a whole ChapStick? Come on!
Over the course of this riveting AMA, we learn that:
- The ChapStick was Apple flavored;
- It took 1.8 years to finish, and;
- The reason this person needed to use that much ChapStick was that they lived in Scotland.