I have a dirty secret to admit: The other day, I willingly went to the BuzzFeed website.
It was the weekend, and I was sitting with my friend having a jolly old time, laughing about internet memes and how dumb BuzzFeed is, when I had the sudden realization that I had never actually seen BuzzFeed before. Of course I’d heard of it, but I didn’t really even know what it was.
BuzzFeed was already a mockery for its “clickbait” headlines by the time it was mainstream enough to start showing its face on my Facebook feed, so I removed it from my timeline the first time I saw a link. I unfollowed anyone who shared a BuzzFeed article. But it was a little unfair of me to have such an unfettered, ignorant hate, so I subjected myself to testing.
As it turns out, I don’t think anyone else goes to the BuzzFeed page either, because simply clicking on an article is nothing indicative of what content BuzzFeed actually produces. Ask someone you know if they can describe what BuzzFeed is, or what its website looks like, or check the BuzzFeed Facebook page to see how many of your friends have a regular relationship with it. For me, only three of my friends like the page, yet somehow these articles get passed around like an affluenza between friends of a friend of a friend who liked a page back in the stone age of Facebook, and “SLEEPING WITH YOUR PILLOW ON THE COLD SIDE” is now trying to stay relevant by reposting everything they see on Reddit and celebrity Twitter—that is, memes and BuzzFeed articles.
Let me paint the scene: At the top left of the screen is the familiar, orange BuzzFeed logo. On the top right is a series of round, yellow buttons with the words “LOL,” “win,” “omg,” “cute,” “fail” (branded “sorry” in Canada), and “wtf.” (I’m already feeling nauseous at this point—why is LOL capitalized, but WTF isn’t?) Anyway, BuzzFeed is your number one source for your daily dose of curated LOLs. But you already knew that.
Just below the logo is the top menu, AKA the area that publications put their most visited sections a click away. There’s a link to the not-quite-clickbait-but-just-vague-enough-for-you-to-know-what-you’re-getting-into news section (filled to the brim with social commentary via embedded Twitter posts, where the writer has simply entered a hashtag and then scrolled Twitter for an hour, choosing tweets as methodically as a crane-game machine).
And then there’s the videos section. BuzzFeed is fairly popular on YouTube—you’ve probably seen BuzzFeed Yellow or BuzzFeed Blue grace your “recommended videos” and couldn’t help yourself from clicking—but did you know that BuzzFeed has 30 YouTube channels, across which they have 24 million subscribers?
I can’t even right now. I literally can’t even.
Seven things you probably didn’t know about this popular internet website:
- BuzzFeed Food, BuzzFeed Video, BuzzFeed UK, BuzzFeed Eugene, BuzzFeed Quiz, BuzzFeed Animals—these are just some of the 98 Facebook pages that BuzzFeed has.
- There is a quizzes section that rivals 2008 Facebook.
- They post pictures of delicious-looking food (colloquially known as “food porn”) with seemingly no reason but to make you hungry. There are no recipes. It’s just pictures.
- The “DIY” section is the same as number 3. It’s just pictures of things, and maybe a hyperlink to where you can buy it. To call this section disingenuous is to acknowledge its existence.
- The bottom of the homepage is just a never-ending blogroll, likely because BuzzFeed does not expect you to scroll down without clicking an article, or the little “x” in the top right.
- Their “About” page can’t even describe what BuzzFeed is, and, instead, is just a white paper document that talks about how many clicks they get. Spoiler alert: it’s a lot.
- BuzzFeed is worse than you thought