Dermatologist Sandra Lee, MD, better known as Dr. Pimple Popper, is a legitimate internet celebrity. The CA-based doctor has been uploading videos of her conquests to YouTube for two years, and she's since racked up nearly 3 million followers on her channel, not to mention 2.5 million on Instagram. I am not one of them.
Many people find the videos unappetizing, and they watch them anyway — after all, the combined gross-out factor and sense of relief that comes with watching stuff burst from within a stranger's skin is what makes people want to watch them in the first place.
But pimple-popping videos do not merely gross me out: They make me sick, they make me dizzy, and they make me feel like I am going to faint. So while others in my position may have reacted to the discovery of /r/popping, an entire Reddit forum dedicated to popping, with glee and excitement for the hours of vicarious pimple-popping that lay ahead of them, I wanted to lay down and die.
But I am in the minority, because /r/popping is an under-the-radar goldmine for anyone who gets off on not just pimple-popping, but blister-bursting, dead skin-peeling, earwax-removing, splinter-extracting, and — my absolute least favorite — tonsil-digging. I sent the link to my boyfriend, who appreciates those sorts of things. "Do u think I haven't been there many times!!" he replied to me via Gchat. Many times.
As part of my research, I asked this stranger in my own home why he, like the forum's 108,058 subscribers, enjoys /r/popping. "I like watching gross stuff, and I like relief," he told me. "I also like doing it in real life, so I like it for the same reason that people who golf like watching golf, or people who fish might like watching a fishing show."
It's entirely possible that popping communities are just another example of people uniting over common interests in a judgement-free zone, like being in a book club or playing on a recreational sports team. But I still prefer my explanation for the phenomenon, which is that human beings are the most disgusting animals on the planet — all of them, except for me.