If you've scrolled through the front page of Reddit anytime over the past few weeks, there's a good chance you've stumbled across Frankie MacDonald.
A typical Frankie MacDonald post goes as follows:
1. Reddit user "frankiemacdonald1984" posts a close-up picture of his own face in the general r/pics subreddit, along with a title like "Here is me After Getting My Haircut on Thursday" or "Me Down at the Boardwalk on Humid Sunday Evening."
2. Tens of thousands of people upvote and many people even gild the post (or spend real money to award the post with a virtual gold coin, for all you non-Reddit users).
3. Thousands of people comment. Roughly half of them say things like, "Who the hell is Frankie MacDonald?"
So...Who the hell is Frankie MacDonald?
Frankie MacDonald is an amateur weather caster from Canada who has autism. Over the past ten plus years, Frankie has posted hundreds of his weather forecast videos on YouTube (amongst other content). He explains all of this in his Reddit profile: "My Name is Frankie MacDonald I was Born and Raised in Sydney Nova Scotia Canada I got 227,000 Subscribers on my YouTube channel I do my weather forecasts Dancing videos and my comedy videos."
And lest you wonder why anyone on the Internet would care about some random dude posting weather forecast videos on YouTube, well, just watch:
Major Storm to Hit South Dakota on Friday October 4, 2013 www.youtube.com
Unlike other weathermen of a far lesser caliber, Frankie MacDonald doesn't just tell you the weather. He shouts it at you, imploring you to "BE PREPARED" and "ORDER YOUR PIZZAS AND ORDER YOUR CHINESE FOOD."
Frankie MacDonald doesn't just limit himself to one region either. He forecasts weather events from all over the world, from his hometown of Sydney, Nova Scotia to Florida, Russia, and even Japan. He also co-wrote a children's book titled "Be Prepared! The Frankie MacDonald Guide to Life, Weather, and Everything."
Recently, Frankie MacDonald has been gearing up to fulfill his lifelong dream of going on an official world tour, wherein, according to him: "I will be traveling to Every Single country in the world and people will have to pay at the box office to go see me on stage at venues all over the whole wide world and I will be giving out speeches and dancing on stage and my comedy skits on Stage at Venues both indoor Venues and outdoor venues all over the whole wide world even the countries that don't even speak English professional translator required professional photographers and professional tv crews and i will need an agent and manager and publicist aka public relations person and engineers i will be on regular television [sic],"
And yes, Frankie MacDonald's dances and comedy sketches are absolutely worth paying for at the box office.
A Guy Dancing then Being Chased by Gorilla www.youtube.com
Okay, but why is Frankie MacDonald always on the front page of Reddit?
Frankie posts multiple selfies on Reddit's r/pics forum every day. Why? Because he can.
Normally, some random person's selfies would get downvoted and buried on a default subreddit ("default" meaning that it shows up for everyone on Reddit whether they intentionally subscribe to it or not). That said, r/pics is technically just a general forum for pictures, and posting selfies isn't against the rules. So if the Reddit userbase chooses to upvote Frankie MacDonald's selfies on r/pics, then that's what hits the front page of Reddit.
In order to hit the front page of Reddit, Frankie MacDonald's selfies need an overwhelming number of upvotes. Following Frankie, it's clear that he gets a lot of joy and positivity out of doing what he does, and there's a good chance that a lot of the people upvoting him simply like to watch him pursuing his passions.
The simple answer to why Frankie MacDonald's selfies keep hitting the front page of Reddit is that people like him enough to keep upvoting.
But like everything popular on the Internet, there's also a decent amount of Frankie MacDonald backlash. The more often Frankie hits the front page, the more the comments section seems to be filled with negativity. Common complaints include people claiming that they're sick of seeing Frankie everyday and bemoaning their assessment that "Reddit is turning into Instagram!"
Honestly, most of it is just typical Internet whining, but there is one claim that holds a bit of water—namely that some people who seem to enjoy Frankie posts a lot are also incredibly condescending in the way they talk about him.
One of the most common Reddit responses to the "Who is Frankie MacDonald" comments is something akin to: "Frankie MacDonald is Reddit's Li'l Sebastian." For anyone unfamiliar with the comedy series Parks and Recreation, Li'l Sebastian is a mini-horse who everyone on the show is obsessed with, with the exception of one character named Ben, who completely fails to understand the appeal.
In short, the people comparing Frankie MacDonald to Li'l Sebastian are essentially relegating him to the same status as a cute animal, as opposed to, y'know, a full-fledged person with autism who is very good at self-promotion. Their line of thought does, indeed, appear deeply ableist.
Still, Frankie seems to enjoy the overall online attention regardless, and he's posted many times about simply ignoring anyone who says anything mean or hurtful. So as long as Frankie is posting of his own volition and continuing to enjoy himself, even his more problematic supporters aren't a particularly good reason to complain about his virtual fame.
So if you see a Frankie MacDonald post along your daily scroll and it makes you smile, go ahead and give Frankie an upvote. And if you see a Frankie MacDonald post and, for some baffling reason, feel the need to spread negativity, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself: What would Frankie MacDonald do? The answer: He'd keep scrolling.