Bill Gates casually chats with people on Reddit when he isn't saving the world
Well known for his philanthropic work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates is also a human being - one who frequents Reddit, it turns out. When business people or celebrities take to Reddit, they’re usually there to peddle their wares or talk about their latest movie. While Bill does post about causes close to his heart, sometimes he just likes to chat and swap ideas and recommendations.
Far from just sticking to self-promotion, Bill posts as a curious, humble, kind-hearted human being.
Reddit has a Secret Santa gift exchange every year, and Bill’s Secret Santa donated to the International Rescue Committee in his name, a group that contributes to education in developing countries.
His reply was touching, saying: “I love to learn (I often come to Reddit just to discover new things). I know I’m lucky, because I’ve always had access to the tools I need. I’ve never had to learn in an under-resourced setting like a refugee camp. That’s why my Secret Santa’s gift means so much to me: she’s helping a young girl continue to learn in a refugee camp through International Rescue Committee. Thank you for your generosity in donating a year of school on my behalf. Happy holidays!”
Bill’s gift in return would make Santa proud: a cow stuffed animal representing a donation to Heifer International, a charity which helps to reduce poverty in developing nations by providing livestock, as a source of dairy products and income. He also sent a National Geographic travel book called Journeys of a Lifetime. The recipient, Rachel, was suitably stoked, once she realised it wasn’t just “a friendly fellow called Bill”. Note: it was.
Bill being a human
During his browsing, Bill happened upon a post by a woman who illustrated the effect of her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease with pictures of the declining quality of her crocheting. He replied, “Wow, what a clear representation of the toll Alzheimer’s takes on the brain. Thank you for sharing. I’m so sorry you and your family are going through this.” Once users realised, they were blown away by his humanity, and of course, star-struck.
Bill the fanboy
He even lets out his inner fanboy by asking questions on other people’s AMAs (Ask Me Anything - a popular format on Reddit for inviting questions). He replied to scientist and author Vaclav Smil, saying: “I’ve read almost every book you’ve written, and I can’t wait to dig into your next one. What inspired you to write about growth?” Vaclav Smil writes about environmental issues and the future of the environment, close to Bill’s interests in sustainable global development.
He also asked the founder of Our World In Data, an online publication about global development, about his favourite chart which demonstrates that the world is getting better, showing his positivity about the progress humanity is making. Bill also frequently posts charts and infographics himself to illustrate points he wants to raise with people online.
Bill the Reader
Bill’s an avid reader, and demonstrates this in a number of posts asking fellow Redditors “What book could you not put down in 2018?” and “Which book do you think every new college grad should read?”. More recently, he very casually commented on another Redditor’s mention of a book “Great book”, after which an eagle-eyed user replied “Bill Gates casually comments and no one notices”.
He also posted to the books subreddit, “Just finished reading “Enlightenment Now.” It’s my new favorite book of all time. Here’s my review (and a free chapter).” Given the book’s subtitle is “The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress”, it’s not surprising to learn it’s Bill’s new favourite.
He also posts about causes close to his heart
When Bill Gates takes to Reddit in a more promotional capacity, sustainable global development and reducing preventable deaths in the developing world are common topics, and he uses his fame (rightfully) shamelessly to raise awareness.
He uses infographics to illustrate the potential of Africa over the coming decades, showing how “Africa is the youngest continent”, and telling us “The poorest countries in Africa could chart a new course by investing in their young people.”.
He also returns to his well-known hatred for mosquitos, with comments like “I’d give my right arm to stop these diseases…”, and a post titled, “Forget Shark Week. This animal kills more people in a day than sharks do in a century.” As well as a video about his crusade for better toilets in the name of sanitation. He even posted a photo of himself, in his own words, “Drinking Poop Water” to the PhotoshopBattles subreddit, (where people take turns posting photoshopped alterations of images.)
Be positive and selfless
His focus on positivity - for example, posting a link to a Vox article titled “Despite the headlines, the world made incredible progress in 2018” - is surprising, given he spends so much time thinking about poverty, starvation, dysentery, and the like. But he doesn’t dwell on what he can’t accomplish, but on what he can. And he’s achieving plenty.
Not one of his posts brags about his business success, trashes his opponents, or promotes for his own personal gain. Instead he’s absolutely determined to improve the world as much as he can.
If every billionaire were like Bill Gates, how many more people would be alive, better off, happier, and healthier?