My Mobile Social Media class at Ithaca College’s Park School took an interesting turn when we had a Skype session with an Ithaca College Alumni Aaron Edwards. 2012 graduate, he has been working at the company Buzzfeed ever since he left the New York Times about a year ago (impressive, I know).
Clicking on the Buzzfeed websites results in a colorful array of icons labeled “OMG” and “LOL”, or my personal favorite “WTF”.
But by releasing posts daily that continue to trend internationally, it seems that they are doing something right instead of wrong.
Clearly Buzzfeed knows how to reel the readers in online.
Buzzfeed has been under some heavy fire from my journalism professors lately. They claim that Buzzfeed news is too “soft” or accuse Buzzfeed of “click-baiting” their stories in some sort of desperate attempt to get as many viewers on their page as possible.
Whether or not this scrutiny holds true remains to be seen. But was is clear is the 13 most viewed Buzzfeed posts prove that the posts like “25 Most Awkward Cat Sleeping Positions” have millions more views and shares than articles containing “hard news”.
And with the way the Buzzfeed website is set up there’s no wonder why.
With the “softer” stories and the top 25 lists located at the top left (where our eyes naturally go to start reading) Buzzfeed literally captures our attention.
The “harder” more news oriented stories are hidden on the right side as tiny little headlines. Utterly concealed next the bright emoji and image filled columns on either side.
But again clearly Buzzfeed is doing something right if it is continuing to grow and flourish. Buzzfeed passed the Huffington Post in growth and audience size.
Buzzfeed must be releasing content we want or else we wouldn’t be using it.
So where’s the news?
Aaron Edwards explained to my class via Skype that Buzzfeed has been making apps like the BuzzfeedNews app to make locating their news much easier. Buzzfeed also has a news tab on their website, which directs users to a site set up much like every other news website.
But the views on the news articles are still incomparable to those on the Top 25 Most Awkward Prom Pictures posts.
Surely awkward prom pictures can’t be capturing our attention more than the Iowa Caucus right?
So are we just afraid of the news?
Sure seems like it.
The article People are More Afraid of Robots Than Death from the Atlantic studies how “People tend to express the highest level of fear for things they’re dependent on but that they don’t have any control over,”
This accounts for technology as the article intended but also explains much of what is happening in the news nowadays and why people are so afraid to even view read articles about it.
Buzzfeed seems to be counteracting this phobia by insulating their news with nice, soft, easy to read articles containing minimal emotional weight.
But is this insulation the best way to face our fears?