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Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



This paper offers a thematic analysis of the anonymous r/The_Donald subreddit, a part of the popular anonymous message board, Reddit, to better understand connection in anonymous hyperpersonal spaces and the relationship between disinhibition and connection. This study considered the semantic, latent, and cultural themes of r/The_Donald to analyze what was taking place in the conversations featured there. An analysis of subreddit activity over the course of one month indicated the presence of groupthink (Janis, 1972) but moreover, that these conversations lack a personal element and posters there appear to engage in “common enemy intimacy” (Brown, 2017). Not only do users often practice dehumanization in speaking about outgroups in derogatory and demeaning ways, but also fail to engage in connection of a personal nature with other posters. Instead, the content focuses around mutual dislike of specific groups and people which appears to be a barrier to authentic connection. This in-depth look at r/The_Donald is an important part of a much larger conversation about disinhibition and anonymous online communication that offers greater understanding of online communication, or more specifically, online political communication.


Presented at the National Communication Association Annual Convention:

Dunbar, B. (2020, November) Groupthink and Common Enemy Intimacy: A Thematic Analysis of Hyperpersonal Connection in Reddit’s r/theDonald. Presented at the National Communication Association Annual Convention, Indianapolis, IN (presented remotely).