Listicles Are Ruining Writing

Listicles Are Ruining Writing

A rant about clickbait and BuzzFeed or BuzzFeed clone website writing.

The Internet has become overloaded with an influx of GIF-centered "writing" many call "listicles." I contend that the majority of people who take writing seriously would agree with me that this style of "writing" is one of the reasons why readers have become so uninterested in creative writing. The people spending numerous hours per week on BuzzFeed and BuzzFeed clone sites who want "cute" photos of non-human animals or GIFs from a famous movie to "tell the story" of an important event or moment such as final weeks or the holidays have very low expectations for what counts as writing. Unfortunately, many websites are falling into the trap of attempting to be BuzzFeed clones in order to get high amounts of traffic. Indeed, claiming that page-view journalism and clickbait sites are the end of writing as we know it is a bit of an exaggeration, however, I believe that this is useful in calling attention to a huge problem that must be discussed. I will admit that writing about this issue on this type of platform is highly ironic since links for listicles and such will be all around this article's link. I apologize for the irony. Of course, writing about this runs the risk of sounding self-righteously pious, but the aim of this article is to appeal to the ego and the super-ego rather than the id as defined by Sigmund Freud.

This is writing?

As I have said, no one who is mature enough to enjoy the art of writing seriously would argue that listicles and page-view journalism are valuable. The argument of "many people enjoy viewing these pieces" is not persuasive enough to convince non-hack writers that the "writing" should be regarded as anything other than offensive, aggravating, and a waste of time. Indeed, BuzzFeeddoes produce decent pieces of writing from time-to-time, however, the website produces listicles and that is simply unacceptable. Admittedly, BuzzFeed is not as infuriating as the other clickbait websites that are slideshows of pictures that will "change your life," however, these other websites do not apologize for BuzzFeed and BuzzFeed clone websites. Not only is it insulting to create a piece of "writing" with 20 images or GIFs with captions, it is flat-out theft. Simply giving attribution to GIFs in a list is not enough. The creation of GIFs is arduous. Period. If someone stole my hard-work to put my GIFs in a list for publishing online I would not be flattered, I would be furious.

What do we do?

If what I have said so far has intrigued you, then I am sure that you are curious about what to do after reading this. I urge you to avoid all page-view journalism or clickbait "articles". I urge you to avoid BuzzFeed and BuzzFeed clone websites until editors and readers appreciate serious, mature writing. Creative writing (poetry, short stories, creative non-fiction, etc.) should be read, encouraged, and published instead of what is being passed-off as "writing". I urge you to try your hand at crafting a creative piece of writing because it is much more rewarding, full of emotions, thought-provoking, and able to create an emotional response in the reader. Lastly, I will admit that my claims are not backed by any evidence or credible sources, however, I believe that my experiences do count and should not be invalidated Therefore I urge you to think about what I have written and how it affects you and talk about it.

Cover Image Credit: Tim I Gurung

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A Tribute to Stephen Hawking

He was here. We were better for it.

Rest In Peace to one of the greatest minds of our time. Most of us can only hope to contribute even a fraction to our human earth’s identity, knowledge, and culture as this brilliant man. Nobody knows how many almost-known secrets of the universe silently pass with him, and sleep for centuries until another generation rediscovers the paths he started — a legacy the icons of scientific discovery have continuously left before him, and surely will after. Condolences with his family and friends, to whom he was not a great explorer of the unknown or a symbol of resilience and excellence against all odds, but merely a man who they loved.

To the people like me, the bullied childhood nerds relentlessly assaulted with accusations and otherness with their only crime being relentless curiosity, the overambitious kids from less-than-promising backgrounds, the very-flawed very-human questioners restlessly Wondering and wandering and longing to understand Everything, the ones so used to being underestimated they can’t tell which inner voice is self-doubt and which is a memory... people like Hawking have always been bright shining lights in the dark.

I want to ask note, briefly, with respect to my own privacy - as someone like me, who was told at a young age I was going to die, and felt at a young age that my body was trying to, and was surrounded by open-ended evidence that a diagnosis would define me and put a loud limiting countdown on my life, Hawking’s defiance of medical odds mattered. He did it for himself, not for all of us, but it mattered.

And as someone who watched her own mother be diagnosed with a short life expectancy, plagued with excruciating pain, and told to expect decay of quality of life and function for as long as Time was endured... Hawking’s story mattered. He outlived a death sentence with shining colors - how man can say that?

My mom being told over and over she had less than 6 months rings in my ears all the time. The first time was 5 years ago, when I was just 17, and I’ve never stopped feeling lost. I’ve never stopped feeling like another shoe is about to drop. I’ve never stopped feeling like at any minute, I could lose everything. I’ve never stopped feeling on edge. I’ve never stopped having the thought creep in as fall asleep at night, like we are all counting the days of borrowed time. Any missed call freaks me out. Any time away from home freaks me out. Any conversations not spent laughing and distracted freak me out. Silence and stillness and seriousness freaks me out. Doctors, hospitals, sickness, closeness, rain-checks, the list goes on.

But I’ve also understood a lot of things in mortality that you can’t have a theoretical knowledge of. You have to feel it. Optimism. Emptiness. Stillness. Grief. Preparatory grief. Dread. Inevitability. Shutting your mind off consciously just to enjoy a moment. Enjoying the moment. Sunlight on your skin. Hugs you don’t want to let go of. Voices you’re scared to forget. Looking at the world around you to see what is missing in you. What it means to memorize the way an ocean sounds, or what the air feels like. What it means to run. What it means to heal. What it means to need someone, and to need something. To take an internal audit of your own life and know what you’ll sacrifice for what or who, what your life-or-death priorities are. What it means to hope. To seek a purpose. To cling to stories like fables and religious anecdotes. To collect examples of people who have Survived This as proof you can present to the other side of your own mind that’s crippling itself with What Ifs. To see someone do something and start to believe you just might make it.

I don’t remember when I latched onto Hawking’s story, or others like him. (I’m a girl with campaign quotes from Jared Padalecki tattooed on both wrists, so clearly I’ve seen some stuff, and clearly I’ve felt some stuff, and clearly I’m not above or averse to shamelessly finding my own heroes).

I know SH didn’t seem the type to appreciate a certain brand sentimentality, especially the spiritual kind. (If I had ever written a letter, and I didn’t, I wouldn’t have dared mention my private convictions about destiny, unwavering as they’ve been - especially the last decade, and the last 5 years.)

Instead, I’ll say this: he got his diagnosis and his sentence, and he said “not me” and went on to live, ferociously, a full lifetime. And that was enough. And it wasn’t enough. He made a business out of the extraordinary. He went on to change the whole world.

Who laughs now? Who doubts in looking at his legacy, as we all think in eulogies, that he did exactly what he set out to do?

I don’t know if he was happy, if he had regrets, if he was troubled by his quality of life. All I know is what the people said, and his rejection of that, and that he did it on his terms.

And when you’re laughed at, and maybe feeling cursed by whatever idea of God or Universe or random chance you believe in, you feel out of control until you take control. No one gives your life back until you take it back. If you do. He did.

You stare death and agony in the face, and if you beat that - what can stop you? He made the Universe confess to him with a hand and a mind.

Imagine what’s possible when you decide “impossible” can always, always be followed with “until now”.

RIP Mr. Hawking. I didn’t know you. I don’t understand half of your work, though I’ve tried. I don’t know if you would have laughed at me, and my silly ideas about things, and the false equivalencies I draw between our lives under the loose justification of “heroes” and “inspiration.”

I don’t know if you loved having a world of witnesses in your struggle, or if you even packaged fame and life-with-challenges that way in your worldview. But for what you did, what you shared, how you lived, and how you allowed so many eyes on your legacy, I thank you and I honor your memory.

I know that this sounds as if I have made this event somehow about me, which it is not. My intention is rather to say, this is a life he has touched, and utterly unremarkable in an army of admirers but completely remarkable all at once. Like each of us in our momentous insignificance in Sagan’s pale blue dot.

We are better for his presence and lesser for his absence. What more can each of us hope the world will say at the end of our lives?

He was here. We were better for it. May he find peace.

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7 Golden Reasons To Watch 'Tangled: The Series' No Matter How Old You Are

Does a really enticing mystery not already make you want to watch?!

Before I even start, I want to get something out of the way: I am not too old for this show. Literally no one on this good green Earth is too old for this show. No matter your age, gender, or if you're even one of those heathens who didn't like "Tangled," Disney Junior's new show "Tangled: The Series" just finished season one, and I'm constantly googling when season two will hit the TV.

I don't care it's a Disney Junior show! It's well done, has a great cast and a fabulous story line! I love it! Die mad about it! Because there's literally no possible way I won't stand on a soap box and defend my position, here are seven reasons you should catch up on this show before season two comes rolling along.

1. They solved a diversity problem.

One of the few complaints "Tangled" got was their utter lack of diversity. The entire cast was white, with absolutely no people of any other ethnicity or color.

"But wait!" you cry. "Surely there wasn't any other race in this most likely European country at the time?"

Well, my uneducated friend, while Europe was almost entirely white, there were people of color there. We just don't like to talk about it because it was a pretty ugly scene for those unlucky few because you know, racism.

But now we got Lance, a black man who was Eugene's childhood friend and honestly, one of my new favorite characters. And one little thief girl who is Asian and her adopted ginger sister. This sounds bad, but it's actually an adorable episode.

2. The new characters don't suck.

One problem with shows like these is that the introduced characters are often just god-awfully cringe. But not in this case!

There are three new characters that are really important. Cassandra, Rapunzel's lady in waiting/bad-ass warrior woman and the adopted daughter of the Royal Guard captain. (Who quite honestly, is kind of a better girl power model than Rapunzel. Her hair is dark, cut short, often messy, she doesn't have perfect blue eyes, plus she doesn't have a perfect hourglass figure like Rapunzel. Best of all, she doesn't need no man to be happy and a bad-ass.)

Lance, who I discussed before, is Eugene's childhood friend. Though at first annoying and kind of a jerk, Lance becomes endearing and quite hilarious as time goes on.

Finally, there's the 14-year-old alchemist, Varian, who...well, I'll have to explain him somewhere else...

3. The old cast plays the characters.

A problem that often comes up with shows that continue on from movies is casting. However, here it's no issue, because the people who played the original cast return for the show! It's amazing to hear Rapunzel and Eugene back just as they were.

4. Good music

While we of course need our basic cheesy songs, the music of "Tangled: The Series" is actually really, really good!

5. A legitimate, interesting mystery

Those who only see the commercials may wonder "Wait, why is Rapunzel's hair back?"

Well, my friend, that's only a small part of this large, intertwining Gravity Falls-style mystery. Yeah, you heard me. This mystery is comparable to "Gravity Falls."

Who is the secret society bent on finding the Golden Sunflower? Where are these scary black rocks coming from? What is Rapunzel's dad hiding?

Buddy, we're through the first season, and we got way more questions than answers!

6. The show is actually really funny.

What? A Disney Junior show with actual humor?

Yes! I know! There have been several times where I snicker, and as the jokes go along, turns into actual gut-splitting laughter. And let me tell you, TV shows, especially cartoons, have to work hard to make me laugh.

7. Varian

Yep, we're back to the 14-year-old alchemist who gives this show a dark, foreboding feel more reminding of "Gravity Falls" than "Sofia the First."

Without major spoilers, the best I can tell you is that while Varian at first starts as a happy kid who's just eager to meet Rapunzel and her friends, an incident sends him down a dark road to revenge, which spirals quickly into a dark insanity.

Let me tell you: there's actual risk of death by impalement in several scenes. There's even been several implications that not everyone is going to make it out alive.

Despite this, it's impossible to hate Varian. He's just a kid, after all. In the episode "Snow Day," we see his strained relationship with his father and the hole left in the family from his dead mother. And no, we don't know how she dies. But let's just say if you saw the final episode of season one, you might be with me in thinking rumors of her death have been greatly exaggerated...

While many may scoff when they see commercials for "Tangled: The Series" just know that I'm probably the harshest critic of everything I watch. And if I'm bouncing up and down in anticipation...

Well, chances are so will you.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedias Common

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