The Power of Buzzfeed and Other Social News Sites

They’re probably every other post in your Facebook news feed. And blog posts titled things like “Why You and Your Roommates Will be Best Friends For Life,” or “An Open Letter to My Cat” are pervasive not just on Facebook but pretty much every social media site you visit. Websites like The Odyssey, Buzzfeed, and Total Srat Move seem to be everywhere online. So why have they become so popular? I think it can be universally agreed that the content isn’t usually academic or particularly substantive (although once in a while it addresses important issues- I’ll talk about this later).

The thing is that these articles are almost universally appealing to our age group, especially college girls. It’s all about how good they are at knowing their audience to relate to them. In some cases, the authors themselves are college girls, making it much easier to relate to their audience. The more “shares” their articles get, the better the website is promoted. This makes a lot of the writing very similar in the way that they can get more shares by being applicable to the majority of people’s lives. Therefore, posts like “12 Things You Wish You Could Be Eating Right Now” are more prevalent than say posts from CNN or National Geographic.

I think there’s a mix of good and bad when writing to a large subset of an age group. On the one hand, it can bring people together. An article that talks about the struggles of friend relationships is relevant to the majority of college girls, and as an extension, they can feel closer to both the author and the target audience because they also relate to the material. On the other hand, I would argue that some articles can become exclusive in their audience. The people who, for example, are not part of a sorority or don’t go to college parties may feel alienated because they do not relate to the material. They are in a position where they are the minority, and that can be a bad experience.

Of course, as social media becomes the primary way people our age get their information, I think that these sites have a huge value. They have the ability to promote social issues in a way that the news cannot do for us- because they have become established as relatable sources. Once in a while, I come across a Buzzfeed article that brings up an important way. Back in October, they came out with this interesting post that discusses the appropriation of Native American culture.

In the end, while you may feel a pang of annoyance that your news feed is cluttered with things like “20 Movies That Will Make You Cry Every Time,” never forget that these sites have the power to get noticed and through that to influence the public. They have the potential to cause major change within our generation, and hopefully in the future we will see them make more change for the good of our society.

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