An Open Listicle to Buzzfeed

Dear Buzzfeed,

Last night, while scrolling through my phone, I saw an article that you published about a ‘comedian,’ going on a very “epic” rant about the fact that Cadbury’s gems packets are deceptively empty. I would explain the article further to readers who are not aware of this gross injustice meted out to Gems lovers, but here’s the thing – I think it’s completely fucking irrelevant.

In India, Generation X was the first among the few to start whining about food companies that dupe us by filling nitrogen in Lays packets, but my grandmother always told me to go eat a pazhampori or an unniappam instead of droning on about the lack of potato chips.

Before you dismiss me as a “hater” and go all “WTF”, “OMG” on me. Here is why I think your website is singlehandedly dumbing down all its readers in India by churning out articles that have less than 100 words and more than 50 gifs, in the format that you understand best: AN EPIC LISTICLE.

  1. Where is the original content at, bro?

Apart from the fact that bro is a terrible word to include in your title unless you’re writing for GQ, most of the content that features on Buzzfeed is aggregated from other social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

No, you are not a boon for unmotivated Internet users by benevolently telling us what you find funny. Anyone in India who is Internet literate and has a data plan/Wi-Fi connection can access these websites.

It is a widely accepted fact that you stand to gain revenue by providing traction to the content that you feature. But the lazy rip-offs will always be shoddy, no matter how many Pokemon gifs you bombard me with.

  1. EPIC FAIL: Usage of out-dated terms

We know you like words like YAASS, FAIL and WTF but they became obsolete the moment they entered the Internet lexicon. You alone have managed to condense the vocabulary of an entire generation, into a bunch words that are best used by the likes of fictional high school bullies such as Eric Cartman, who tremble at the sight of a dictionary.

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3. A master class on how to extract traffic from a privileged demographic of the country

Recently, you published an article about the perils that a dark skinned woman faces while growing up in a country where Fair & Lovely seems to be the only known anti-dote to a hefty dowry. The women featured in the article are startling sophisticated and come from families that are fairly liberal about the skin-colour of the daughters in the house.

When you highlight the experiences of an urban, upper-middle class woman, you also silently suppress the general oppression faced by women from a more economically vulnerable and unstable background.

When you write about casteism so poignantly and then do not follow up with a single report of the atrocities being faced by Dalits in the country, you are contributing to the narrative that Salman Khan’s crass sexism is more appalling than deaths over a cow-slaughter.

  1. Hiring designers who aren’t punny

No, I don’t watch Game of Thrones. No, I don’t have Pokemon Go on my phone. Maybe, I don’t want to be tugged into time-sucking vortex of cyber reality and your designers should accept that?

Apart from seriously needing to update their Photoshop skills, your designers seem to be hell bent on using puns with cross references to American pop-culture that alienate most people who are yet to accept that liberalisation isn’t the best thing to happen to the country since Savitri Bai Phule.

  1. GIFs aren’t an authentic form of expression

GIFs are a perfectly acceptable response, only when I’m late to work and don’t have the time the type out an elaborate good-morning text to my lover. The fact that most of your lists and reviews of films are choked up with gifs is a tribute to the shallow understanding of the subjects that your website promotes. Should I be complaining about the fact that your website features articles that are short, viral and moderately funny?

Yes, because most times these gifs are easily digestible snippets that are made by talented performers, that you take credit for only because you recognised that someone else’s work was funny.

  1. Your click-bait articles are killing creativity

Buzzfeed has seemingly spawned off a couple of other websites that are hinged on the viral-ity of the content it produces; from endless lists, to personality quizzes and photo essays about mischievous dogs playing with indifferent cats.

Now if you’re wondering why Buzzfeed has managed to have so many copycats, it’s merely because it drills profits out of fillers that are meant to distract the viewer (from an existential dread or) from issues that are of national importance such as the Kashmir conflict. And we should keep in mind that listicles are immensely easy to replicate and produce.

When these websites manage to rake up more than a million views, writers around the world lose incentive to produce content that is thoughtful, provoking and articulate.

In conclusion, here’s a new tag that might help users to better articulate their feelings about a Buzzfeed article: GENERIC.

 

 

BONUS: Check out this website which is a parody of Buzzfeed, making it glaringly obvious that we’re all investing too much time in journalism that mimics a trashy tabloid.