I took a hiatus a year ago from Facebook. I went from July to December. When I got back on Facebook, something had taken over the Newsfeed. I didn’t know what it was called. I just knew that all of a sudden, people were sharing posts like “21 Things You Didn’t Know About Monkeys Falling In Love.” Turns out these posts generally came from a source called Buzzfeed. Most of the time, I could pass on the Buzzfeed. When it talked about the monkeys falling in love, I had to click on the link. “Maybe,” I thought, “there is a reason people share these. Maybe I have something to learn from these monkeys.” I was let down. After seven months of scrolling through my newsfeed, I’ve come to the conclusion that I hate Buzzfeed. Here’s why:
1. Buzzfeeds empty your bank account for the day. On Buzzfeed, you are not paying for the information with the currency of cash, but with the currency of time. Buzzfeeds create an “infinite loop” (okay it’s not quite infinite, but it could feel like it later in the day) of Buzzfeeds by giving you 5 to 10 more Buzzfeeds to read at the end of each post. Which wouldn’t be a problem, if the information was really worth your time. No offense, but is that post about “21 Cute Things Cats Do” worth your time? Imagine yourself, five years ago watching yourself staring at a screen today looking at posts and pictures about cats all day. Buzzfeed empties your “time bank account.”
2. Buzzfeeds recycle and reframe information. It really isn’t a new article about relationships this time. It’s the same article, but the order of information is the same. You may feel like you’re learning something new, when you’re really just re-reading the post from last week.
3. Buzzfeeds equates information with change. This is why you’re able to click the share button, and place the ever-important Buzzfeed on Facebook. Did that post about “7 Ways You Can Tell If He Likes You” really change anything in your life? Did you forget it two days later? I know, it’s tempting to share the link and say, “This will change your life! Soooo amazing!!”
4. Buzzfeeds teach you to be a mile wide and an inch deep. When you read a Buzzfeed, it gives you a certain number of things you should know about a subject. Then, there are the other links at the end of the article that are about other subjects. It takes away your ability to focus on something for a sustained period of time. Buzzfeeds scratch the surface of a paradigm or idea, but there is little depth on that subject.
5. Buzzfeeds make you feel like you’re an expert in an area. How do they do this? Because they write as the specific answer to a problem, or the information you don’t have yet. Now, let’s be frank about this. Most people writing Buzzfeeds are not experts in the field they are writing in. They are experts in getting you to click on their link though.
6. Buzzfeeds make you feel like you did something when you only read something. This is part of the share button phenomenon. Sharing a post makes you feel like you have more skin in the game than you actually do. Sharing a post about “10 Reasons People Need Clean Water” is not the same as giving of your time, finances and creativity to help people have clean water.
7. Buzzfeeds work harder on the list than the content. These writers know that you like lists. They know that you feel like you understand a subject better when you can go back to a numbered order.
8. Buzzfeeds keep you from reading something that took time to write. Most authors take a long time to actually write a book. Many put their bones and marrow into it. When you read something that someone poured their soul into, it’s more likely to do something to affect your life.
9. Buzzfeeds are too easy. Your mind works like a muscle. You won’t get stronger in the gym, if you don’t pick up something with more weight. It is fine to start with small weight, but if you want your muscles to build, you’ll increase in weight. If you want your mind to get stronger, read some things that are harder to read. Make yourself focus.
10. Buzzfeeds help you become frustrated. We derive meaning from many things, but rarely will an intellectually shallow diet provide any person with meaning. Instead, you’ll become more frustrated. You’ll be frustrated that what you read doesn’t really change you for the better, and you’ll be frustrated by wasting your time on Buzzfeeds.