We’ve all noticed how the internet has taken a really weird turn in the last couple years. It’s starting to treat us all like we’ve been held back a few years in school and that we need more pictures and smaller words to understand what’s going on around us. It’s just filled with viral websites consisting of stupid list articles and click bait titles. I have fallen prey to these sites from time to time, and you probably have to. But let’s just take a minute to think about how terrible these sites really are. What ever happened to real content? I like content-driven sites with meaningful articles that educate me on topics or make me laugh belly laughs. I don’t think I really need to read an article about the 35 thoughts that run through my head while watching an episode of Gossip Girl. I was there. I knew what I was thinking. I thought “this show is garbage” and then I thought “no wait this shit is really good” and then I went right back to thinking “okay, it’s garbage but I have no taste so I like it even though it’s garbage.” But you don’t need to know that, because you can form your own opinions completely isolated from a list of ideas that myself or Thought Catalog are trying to put into your head.
Even the good websites these days are just full of stupidly pretentious lists or “One woman thought she was marrying the man of her dreams. What happens next will shock you” bullshit. The fact that legitimate news websites are now using click bait headlines to get online readers to read actual news about actual things that matter kind of frightens me. It’s kind of scary to me that I can go on a site like Huffington Post and see a headline like “One rover landed on the moon. You will never believe what it encountered!” I feel like humans are being conditioned to only take in information in list form that comes with very few words and lots of cute pictures. If a huge world event happens and someone writes about it in over 400 words it won’t compute in the minds of the twenty-something. “Sure, there’s a war on, but if the story about it doesn’t fit on my iphone screen without me having to scroll down then how can you blame me for not paying attention to it? If it’s so important you should turn it into an infographic.”
I have had some of my stories rejected by websites before because they are longer than 400 words or they don’t have enough pictures. I just can’t bring myself to write these types of articles even if it means making money off of it. So I decided to talk to Clare about this because it was starting to really get to me. She agrees with me. Neither of us can stand how pretentious these lists are and we both hate how viral they have become. We felt like berating all this viral-clickbait-list-crap today, so we have compiled our own parody titles of articles that would probably go viral instantaneously. Here is a highlight of some of the best (or worst) ones, in list form, so you might actually pay attention to it.
1. 10,000 Things to Do Before You Turn 23 (Or Else You’re a Failure)
2. Quiz: What Your Favourite Flavour of Rice Says About Your Sex Life
3. Eat These 7 Super Foods to Be a Funnier Person
4. Which Hozier Song Best Describes Your Favourite Free Trade Coffee Brand?
5. 6 Hacks For Bottling Your Own Jam.
6. These 16 Mood Rings Will Seriously Change The Way You View Poverty
7. How These 8 Crystals Will End Sexism
8. The 14 Best Ways to Treat Your Cat to a Spa Day
9. Trendiest Food Allergies to Have in 2015
10. The 10 Hippest Glue Brands to Buy Your School Aged Child
11. These 8 Celebrity Mirror Selfies Will Change How You View the Conflict in Syria
12. How To Guarantee Your Child Feels a Sense of Entitlement in 12 Easy Steps
13. Try These 9 Organic Grain-Fed Flightless Bird Meats To Increase Your Libido
14. What Your Favourite Colour Says About Your Stance on Terrorism
15. The Best Denim and Plaid Combos for the Bearded Filmmaker In Your Life
16. These 6 Exercises Will Help You Blast That Unruly Thumb Fat
17. 8 Bands to Pretend to Like in April 2015
I just want people to bring back long-form articles or blogs. I don’t need all of my information to come with pictures and no more than 4 sentences. We don’t need to take quizzes to figure out the exact way we will die or what our favourite Harry Potter character says about our future career choices.
I get that this seems hypocritical because I like looking at pictures of cats. But I also think it’s important to balance that with actual news and legitimate articles that have meat on them metaphorical bones. Cats in sweaters are cool, but science is cooler. Lists of ten ways gluten is killing you even though you don’t have a gluten allergy are important, but world conflict is more important. We should approach this the same way we approach swearing in an uptight household. If you swear, you have to put a quarter in the swear jar. How about if we read an article about puppies posing with stuffed animals that look like them, we go read a story about Malala Yousafzai?
Now excuse me while I go read the news to make up for watching HuffPost’s compilation of puppies trying to climb stairs. Balance, people! Balance!