Someone Noticed that Buzzfeed Can Be a Bit Insensitive and it is FIERCE
9 paragraphs that have just had it with Buzzfeed stereotypes…
I don’t know when exactly Buzzfeed launched. If you’re a regular reader of XWHY you’ll be aware that thorough research – or even basic Googling – is not something I really have time for. Maybe I should post a Buzzfeed-style .gif of a sassy woman saying “ain’t nobody got time for that!”
Anyway, the site’s age is beside the point – Buzzfeed is now embedded in Internet culture, and influences the opinions of millions of people every day. It has attained the trust of people like me, who in the early 90’s did indeed wonder how Skeletor’s jaw stayed attached to his head. And while we clearly all still think about stuff like that, we’re grown-ups now. We also need to have opinions on pointless shit, like the US government shutdown, and Buzzfeed is nice enough to keep us abreast of these things, with their current affairs for dummies. Having a cornucopia of easily digestible information about stuff that I don’t really care enough about is a godsend. Thank you, Buzzfeed.
However – you knew that was coming, right? You’re very astute. That’s what I like about you – there is of course a downside. Internet memes – Buzzfeed’s bread and butter – supposedly reflect the zeitgeist in that people are, collectively, interested in them or find them funny. So yeah, while it’s reassuring to know that other people in their late twenties are just as single/alcohol-fuelled/petrified as you are, it is also disconcerting when you’re confronted with a theme that’s not just unfamiliar, but downright surprising in it’s content.
I’m not simply talking about feeling a bit out of touch with pop culture. Buzzfeed focuses on the little things that unify our existence – it DOES feel amazing when you wake up without a hangover! – so when it starts painting in broader strokes it’s quite jarring. It’s not that the clanging racial stereotypes it occasionally drops are necessarily offensive in themselves, it’s just that when combined with the massive hyperbole that the site trades on, they kind of undermine the message of common understanding.
Take that sassy woman I mentioned earlier – the one who ain’t got no time for that. What race do you reckon she was? I don’t need to tell you, do I? Because like Buzzfeed, I relied on you understanding the stereotype, so it was perpetuated. You might not think there’s any harm in that, but creating and spreading new stereotypes will subconsciously increase anyone’s sense of tribalism. It becomes ‘us and them’ when it should simply be ‘us’.
Most recently, the ‘meme that the world needs’ was black people being thoroughly underwhelmed by white people.
Now, don’t get me wrong – white people do a lot of dumb shit, but that’s because they’re people. Most people are fucking dreadful really, it doesn’t matter what race they are. In fact I’m pretty sure that at least two of the people in this list of the ‘whitest things that have ever happened.’ are Asian, thereby suggesting that white people don’t hold the monopoly on unimpressive idiocy. Incidentally, what’s the inference of this? Is ‘white’ now an adjective meaning ‘lame/rich/uncoordinated/awkward’ that can apply to anyone, regardless of race? Kind of sounds like the way teenagers say ‘gay’ to mean ‘anything generally shit’.
But that’s not the point. I’m not here to argue for the cause of gay people, or indeed white people. Instead, I’d like to argue for people. Because while they are just the worst, they’re all the same really and they should be treated as such.
Buzzfeed probably doesn’t think that there’ll be any subliminal consequences of basing its articles on stereotypes that are more sweeping than a sooty Victorian orphan, but really it’s just enforcing preconceived ideas that people have about each other. If you’re in the business of influencing public opinion, perhaps it would be better to keep your focus on the things that make us all the same, rather than the inconsequential differences.
WORDS: James Barton