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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: BuzzFeed isn’t news, it’s entertainment—bad entertainment

If you are engaged in any form of social media, are even slightly interested in pop culture or regularly use the Internet, you have witnessed the plague that is BuzzFeed. 

BuzzFeed is an entertainment and news site that was founded in 2006. It publishes articles, quizzes and videos about a range of pop culture topics. What started off as an innocuous and amusing way to pass time has evolved into a conglomeration of pointless content that floods our newsfeeds.

BuzzFeed thrives on the idea of list articles, or “listicles.” List articles are not something new. Humans have used lists for centuries to prioritize and condense information for efficient distribution and comprehension. They capture our attention since they are so easy to follow.

However, the meteoric rise of online listicles encourages people to have even shorter attention spans. In the digital age, we want our information fast and accessible, and this overload of superficial information will keep us from gathering any real knowledge. Gross oversimplification keeps people from really understanding major topics.

The articles that BuzzFeed publishes have no real content, and are simply meant to attract enough attention to get views — more views means more money from advertisers and sponsors. Are these clickbait stories really what people want to read?

Some real BuzzFeed articles from the past few weeks include topics such as “17 Pictures That Will Make You Say ‘Me As A Communist,’” “36 Songs You’ll Remember If You Were In College From 2007-2011” and “John Kasich Can’t Stop Eating.” They pull from random bits of nostalgia and seemingly relatable topics to make these articles seem just interesting enough to open.

The quizzes put out by BuzzFeed are equally as pointless, if not more mind-numbing. They have taken personality type “sorting hat” quizzes to the extreme. Why would anyone in their right mind care if they “Are More Of A Watermelon Or A Rubber Band?”

These articles and quizzes try to reach a specific demographic by drawing upon popular TV shows, fanbases and celebrities. There are dozens of articles on every aspect of Taylor Swift’s life and music, and countless arbitrary quizzes like “How Well Do You Know Taylor Swift’s Cat, Olivia Benson?”

These links are enhanced by their exaggerated titles. According to BuzzFeed, your mind will be blown by this life-changing video of the greatest cat on the planet that you never realized was actually the feline embodiment of yourself. The extreme exaggerations used in every title make the hyperboles lose their effect.

These are all highly opinionated columns. There is absolutely no basis to the claim that “Melbourne is the Greatest Place in the World” except for the incredibly biased — and unsubstantiated — reasons listed by Australian BuzzFeed writer Brad Esposito. We also see dozens of different articles on why other cities are the “best in the world.” While a column should present the opinion of a certain writer, it severely lowers the credibility of the site as a whole when every single column posted claims to definitively determine the best of something.

One of the most annoying aspects of this site, however, is that BuzzFeed tries to pass as a news platform. There is a news section on the home page that contains short summaries of world events, but how factual are these stories? A study by the Pew Center showed that less than 4 percent of millennials — a large portion of the target audience — consider BuzzFeed a credible news source.

Today’s college students are the youngest in the millennial generation, however. BuzzFeed’s rise to fame was not very long ago, and most of us realize that, though entertaining, it is not a credible news source. What about the next generation? Will those who are growing up with sites like BuzzFeed take its credibility for granted?

Even entertainment should be held to some standards, and the pointless content BuzzFeed releases does not measure up. We as a society are often critical about the quality of music, television shows and movies. Why is online content any different? 


Follow Apoorva Bhaskara on Twitter


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