I think a lot of us can relate to the guilt, deep down, that comes with having an affinity for Buzzfeed. Although our levels of appreciation–even addiction, some would argue–may vary, those of us who share this opinion can probably agree that it feels somehow “wrong” to regularly read Buzzfeed content. Why? What is it about this massive media company? Well, that depends on who you ask.
As a prickly pear, I had to convince myself to let it go when it came to the style of “listicles” in the first place. I accepted them for a while, since they were fun, but now it’s come to the point where I roll my eyes if someone sends me a link to one, unless the writer a) is both clever and snarky b) has genuinely helpful life “hacks,” or c) has done their research and can recommend inventive gift products I never would have found. That’s a pretty limited selection, although when I first discovered Buzzfeed a few years ago, I was enamored with it. Now it feels like a swamp. I know that the CEO or whoever wants to present a more serious side to the company, at least in terms of gearing more posts towards political awareness or social activism. Still, I’m wary of this tactic. I think the way to get a more robust reception is to diversify the entertainment offered, not smother it with quasi-journalism.
Ironically, although I have lukewarm feelings toward the site that started it all in 2006, I have completely different thoughts about the Buzzfeed YouTube channel. There are a few of them, in fact, but to me, the main one and Buzzfeed Yellow both embody things that the site has lost touch with. In general, I love the content. A close-knit, diverse team of hip adults works to bring viewers a mix of scripted videos, interviews, vlogs, and pure fun. They dare to go beyond listicle-style videos (which they also produce). The videos that aren’t scripted also get people talking about social issues, race issues, gender issues–whatever–both serious and not so serious. These Buzzfeed YouTubers know that they wield several kinds of power over their audience: the power to be honest, the power to change, the power to share culture, the power to bring comfort or joy. I believe they have taken a sense of responsibility upon themselves, and I’m grateful for it. I guess it just goes to show that in our multi-media-driven world, form is just as important as the tone or style of a message.