Buzzfeed sucks. If that statement offends you, you’re what’s wrong with America. If you don’t know what buzzfeed is (count yourself one of the lucky few), it’s a self-described “snapshot of the viral web in real time.” Basically what that translates into is a bunch of ADHD, zero-thought-required, pandering bulls*** (asterisks make it classy). It takes statements so generic and effortlessly digestible that they barely qualify as original thoughts, wraps them up in some easily google-able pics, tosses in some cat .gifs and voila, one internet. At best it’s a topic statement without the accompanying paragraph, at worst it’s an endless stream of tabloid-magazine cover headlines with even less intellectual content. If mental stimuli were diagrammed like the food pyramid, buzzfeed would be the “fats and sugars” section way at the top that’s supposed to make up only the tiniest fraction of your daily food intake…but just like the actual food pyramid, Americans refuse to exert even the smallest amount of willpower and instead consume as much as they can (“What if we put ice cream IN the rootbeer so I don’t lose those precious seconds between taking bites of dessert and slurping down soda! What do you mean diabetes is a thing?”) and as a result our mental obesity is almost as out of control as our country’s physical obesity (though less immediately outwardly visible).
Buzzfeed capitalizes on all the worst traits of modern quantity-over-quality internet culture and contributes nothing of its own. This is evidenced by the fact that the most popular posts on buzzfeed’s site are their arbitrarily-numbered lists. Lists of what, you ask? Of everything (the 15 most ridiculous world leaders of all time). Of anything (20 reasons why going to the gym is a huge waste of time). Of nothing (20 doodles that show what we’re all thinking during business meetings). Essentially buzzfeed thinks so little of its readership that not only does it acknowledge the shallowness of its audience, it actually highlights it and throws it back in the face of that selfsame audience…and they don’t care! If a real life person condescended to you like that, you’d punch them in the genitals, but because a website has the audacity to publish the “51 Colorful and Delicious Ways to Eat Spring Vegetables” (I’m sorry, do you mean SALAD? Are you just describing what a salad is in 51 variations? Look man, I am a tax-paying adult, you can just say SALAD, ok?), you’re all like “Wow my three favorite flavors: spring, delicious AND colorful; and because it has vegetables in the title this counts as my workout for the day! More Ovaltine please!”
And before you get up in arms and start sending me links of my own numbered-list articles, please don’t be simple enough to think that this is an attack on numbered lists in and of themselves. I’m obviously not saying I have a problem with the idea of counting things, anymore than you’d be dense enough to think that buzzfeed invented numbering (I think MySpace did that with their Top 8. Or maybe it was prehistoric mankind. Hard to say). The problem here isn’t that the people at buzzfeed just make lists all day like some sort of OCD housewife (or househusband, if you’re lucky enough to be one of those), the problem is that buzzfeed doesn’t even have the decency to pretend that it’s engaging any of your higher brain functions. It’s not writing articles or original thoughts/observations to go along with these shockingly broad headlines, it’s literally just stating a category and then listing things that fall into that category. Then it stamps “win”, “WTF”, or “LOL” onto it so there’s no mistaking what you’re supposed to feel and calls it a day. Essentially buzzfeed is saying “All right you dumb f***ers, we both know you’re here just to engage with the absolute minimum of your intelligence but with the maximum amount of emotional payout, so here’s the 22 chubbiest cheeks of all time.” AND YOU STILL CLICKED IT. If the average human only uses about 10% of their brain, buzzfeed truly is the one percent. Hashtag occupy your brain.
But, like with most rants, the most visible issue isn’t the problem, it’s a symptom. Buzzfeed exists because it’s run by morons. But buzzfeed is popular because we’re a culture of morons (I said “we” just then to try and dial back the pretentiousness a bit and make it sound like I don’t think I’m better than you. Did it work?). If the government went all China on us and took buzzfeed off the internet tomorrow, it wouldn’t fix the actual issue: that we, as a society, don’t WANT to be engaged deeply. We don’t want thorough cortex stimulation on a daily/weekly/monthly/ever-ly basis, we just want to sit back and look at the happiest puppies of all time or compare ourselves to 47 actors from our childhood who’ve really let themselves go so we can feel better about ourselves. But why? I don’t know, specifically, because it’s probably all different reasons depending on the person or the day or our mood or any number of other factors upon which I could only speculate. But some overarching commonalities are: it’s easy — no opinion-formation or decision-making required, just a cursory knowledge of the subject listed and an affinity for visually-stimulating things; it’s a good time-waster for when you want to procrastinate the next work project or class paper. It’s a coping mechanism for tragedy: when something awful happens like the Boston Marathon attack or a Middle-Eastern wedding bombing or any of the other global atrocities that occur on a daily basis, it can be simpler to take refuge behind a sympathetic tweet and then lose yourself in a world where only happy things take place. But the same way that alcoholics or drug addicts self-medicate to forget or avoid the world of the real and potentially painful, hiding yourself in a bubble doesn’t fix or change anything, it only delays (and possibly magnifies) the consequences.
For all the bold language I’ve used here, I don’t want you to feel condemned or judged by me or anyone for something as silly as going to one website or another. I just want to encourage you (and by so doing, encourage myself) to use the beautiful blessing of our God-given intelligence to affect change in the real and magnificent and important ways that we’re able to, rather than wasting that precious gift on the 27 signs you were raised by Asian immigrant parents. Look, you need to blow off some steam or just unplug for a few minutes after something intense, I get it. But just make sure if you’re gonna have your dessert first that you leave room for your meat and potatoes as well (or your tofurkey for all you vegetarians out there). You’re a wonderful, unique, smart, and creative person, and I just want to see you use those abilities on someone/something that appreciates it, rather than waste your time, energy and skills on the 13 reasons Shakira should be president of the world. (I got nauseous just typing that).
Also if you’re thinking “Hey wait a second, I thought this article was called ’19 reasons Buzzfeed sucks’, where’s the list of reasons?” trust me the 19 reasons are in there, I just respect your intelligence/reading-comprehension enough to assume you’ll be able to absorb an article without me spelling out every single facet of what I’m saying in a bulleted list littered with cat .gifs. You’re welcome.
PS And the worst buzzfeed crime of all? YOU DON’T START TITLES WITH A NUMBER YOU SPELL IT OUT YOU IGNORANT, ILLITERATE IMBECILES! It’s not “14 Taylor Swift Gang Signs Explained”, it’s “Fourteen Taylor Swift Gang Signs Explained”. For the love of God, can someone donate $14.95 to these assholes so they can buy an AP Stylebook like the one required in ANY collegiate or professional writers’ setting?? It killed me to not spell out the title of this post, but I was mimicking the buzzfeed layout. Yes, I did die a little inside when I did it, thanks for asking.
If you enjoyed (or hated) this post, you might also enjoy (or hate) these posts:
• The Five Stages of When a Pretty Girl Talks to You
• Why Latin is the Best Language
• The Nine Phrases You Need to Stop Using in Your Bio
…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox. Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagram, youtube (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…I don’t even like me enough to keep up with all that.
As an added bonus for you, here are some extra, post-specific mini-rants on buzzfeed articles that I couldn’t find a way to work into the body of the column. I’m only linking to them to prove that I’m not making this asinine shite up, but don’t misread this as me wanting to send buzzfeed any extra traffic. If you really need to kill some time, then read a book, I beg you.
Also worth noting, the majority of these articles came from the “Big Stories” section of buzzfeed’s front page (or the “BS” section as I prefer to call it).
• Big Story: 26 things you’ll only get if you watch game of thrones. Glad to see that little dustup in North Korea is all taken care of, let’s get to the ACTUAL important news like whether or not winter is coming in a fictional HBO show universe.
• Big Story: Here are two people having sex on google street view. Wow, I guess depending on your context for “big” this story qualifies, I’m not sure how I got through my day before seeing this.
• Big Story: 31 reasons birth control exists. I couldn’t even bring myself to click on this link, although I was under the impression that there was only one reason birth control exists, and really, that should be plenty. I’m certain the next 30 reasons are just a list of reality television stars.
• The 18 clumsiest deer. I actually thought about taking a razor to my wrists when I saw this one, but then I thought “No Dustin, if you do that, the buzzfeeders win.”
• The 17 videos under 30 seconds guaranteed to make you laugh. This is buzzfeed in a nutshell: a finite list so there’s a clear short-term commitment, a 30-second time so your Ritalin-gulping ADD ass won’t have to wait for the generic emotions to start pouring over you, and a guarantee — let that sink in — a GUARANTEE to make you laugh so there’s no chance that your 30 seconds will be wasted for naught. Also if anyone could GUARANTEE you’d laugh at something, they’d be working for a tv or movie company making millions, not freelancing it in the dregs of the internet.
• The 31 reasons Jay-Z and Beyonce are the greatest couple of all time. Only 31? They’re clearly not looking hard enough. Also, this is another of the many that you can file under the “no shit Sherlock” category. Can’t wait to see the buzzfeed article that’s “The 27 reasons sunshine is warm”.
• The 13 most important versions of R. Kelly’s Ignition (remix). Oh well at least they kept it to only the IMPORTANT versions of the remix. I don’t have a dictionary handy, but I’d love to see the definition of the word “important” that can be skewed far enough to incorporate R. Kelly remixes (not even his original songs, freakin’ REMIXES).
Last and also least: This guy is obsessed with becoming a mermaid. But it runs a little counterintuitive to his previous obsession: to eventually get laid or find gainful employment ever again. But who am I to crush his dreams? My next obsession is to control gravity with my mind, I figure he and I have about an equal shot of achieving our goals. …We’ve gotta stop telling our kids that they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up.