Viewpoint: Only reading Buzzfeed articles feeds our narcissism, vanity

1/17/15 Magic School Bus Wildart

By Allie Matherne

Instead of picking up a newspaper or turning on the local news, the millennial generation looks at shared Buzzfeed articles to satisfy their news content intake. With the shift from paper to online news, a monumental shift in mindset came as well. The move to online news was a game-changer for news organizations. Instant access, instant fact checking and interactive features hardly scratch the surface of the shift. Unfortunately with this shift came a new-age style of journalism: shallow, viral news content.

These “news sites” such as Buzzfeed and The Odyssey Online play to our weakness: seeing ourselves on a screen — figuratively, of course. While you may not see your face on a Buzzfeed article, you can picture it there. “10 Things You Only Know If You’re From Louisiana,” for example, only grabs my attention because I want to perpetuate my own vanity. It’s about pride, not news.

These gimmicky, self-proclaimed news sites feed our generation’s narcissism on a platter and in reality do little more than strengthen our egos. I want to read the article “19 Ways To Spot Someone Who Grew Up In The ’90s” not to better myself but to see what I have in common with other people and what I think I know better than they do.

They completely dismantle the journalistic mentality by framing their gimmicky lists as “articles.” The lack of originality is astounding – Graphic Interchange Fromats, for example, are a crutch. “34 Zac Efron Moments That Totally Describe College” is just new-age plagiarism. The entire concept of a GIF is to take a scene that someone else slaved over, reduce it to a moment, and call it your own because you attached a relatable headline to it. So to build an entire article – a term I use loosely – around GIFs is hardly journalism.

These platforms provide a blueprint for our generation to delve deeper into self-love. The driving question is what should we expect from our news sources? A news source is ideally something that points outside of ourselves – this is the crux of why this inclination is so dangerous.

Instead of looking to news for a better understanding of others, what’s going on in the world and as an opportunity be externally focused, we’re only pitted deeper into the internal love of self. Buzzfeed itself is not the problem – the narcissism that drives it is.

When we strip our news of content and rely on catchy titles, funny photos and relatable lists, we lower the standard of what is news and discourage creative voices from forming.

Allie Matherne is a junior public relations and English double major from Lafayette, La. She is a reporter and regular columnist for the Lariat.