We have all seen the Buzzfeed articles that are incessantly shared on Facebook, ranging from slightly bearable ones like “20 Reasons Chicago is the Best Place to Live” to the most idiotic articles like “18 Cats That Just Really, Really Can’t Right Now.” The media company is quickly becoming a giant, leapfrogging off of the success of Facebook (almost 75% of its online traffic is directed directly from other social media platforms) and the crushing bored/questionable taste of its users. Since its beginning in 2006, BuzzFeed has become one of the top 10 most-visited websites in the United States, attracting more than 160 million individual visitors over the past year alone. It is hard not to be impressed by this, coming from a website that published a list called “13 Potatoes That Look Like Channing Tatum.”
I’ll admit, I am no stranger to the website myself. I’ve taken a few of the recently-popular Buzzfeed quizzes myself (in case you were wondering, I’m Lilly in How I Met Your Mother, Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and if I were a font, I’d be Typewriter). But the pervasiveness of the website still astounds me slightly.
I am all for stupid, silly entertainment. But with the amount of time my generation spends on Facebook, I am afraid we might be filling our heads with a little too much mush, at the risk of sounding like Mr. Rogers. I am tired of seeing news articles that only attract attention if they are made in simple lists, with points illustrated by Dance Moms GIFS. I have seen this style pervade other trendy websites like ThoughtCatalog and Upworthy (with is a rant for another day), and to me, it seems like a cop-out. Critical thinking and the ability to write is something that is very necessary to develop. The way we receive media shapes the way we think about it. The style in which these articles are written, and the content they contain, are often immature and under-developed, and they are taken far too seriously by many of my peers.
I cannot count the number of times I have been ticked off by an article claiming it has the “20 Things A 20-Year-Old Should Know,” and especially by the amount of times these articles are shared. People are not thinking about what they are reading, they are just taking it in because their super cool friend from high school shared it on Facebook. Many times I’ll see an annoying article on my feed because TEN or more of my friends have shared it.
I am not saying people should not share their opinions, stupid or not-and I am often entertained by Buzzfeed and its ilk. But I think we need to really process what we are reading, and stop taking everything at face value.
References:Saba, Jennifer. (February 23, 2014.) Beyond cute cats: How Buzzfeed is reinventing itself. Reuters. Retrieved February 28, 2014 from http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/23/us-usa-media-buzzfeed-idUSBREA1M0IQ20140223.