I started writing for Odyssey in July, the summer before my first semester at Temple University. I found it really cool that college students get the opportunity to have their writing, uncensored, published online through working with a professional community. That's something I still take pride in when I think about Odyssey.
Pretty much all Odyssey creators want their articles to get shared on the Odyssey Facebook page. Views skyrocket and you get so much more feedback from people who came across your article. It's a gratifying feeling, seeing people you don't even know relating to and sharing your article with their friends.
Even though this is a great aspect of the Odyssey Facebook page, the page itself has turned to only sharing articles that have clickbait headlines, are generic and overdone, or are intended to be controversial and get people fighting in the comments.
For example, I have seen multiple articles along the lines of, "I Am 18 Years Old And I Will Never Be A Feminist," "Why Girls Need To Start Dressing Nice For Class," and "I'm The Person Who Doesn't Always Tip 20%." Yes, these are real opinions of real people and they deserve to share their thoughts.
But the only reason Odyssey shares these articles, sometimes the same ones multiple times, is to get people angry. Obviously, girls are going to have an opinion when they read an article that consists of another girl telling them they're lazy for wearing leggings to class. People who work in the food industry know the struggle of making a living off tips so they're going to want to retaliate when they read an article saying that person doesn't tip. The Odyssey platform knows that and for some reason, this is what they want.
Furthermore, there have been TONS of articles shared along the lines of, "An Open Letter To My Boyfriend/Best Friend/Little Brother/Any Relationship You Could Ever Have With Anyone," "XX (insert popular TV show here) Quotes That Explain College," and "XX Reasons You Need (literally anything popular) In Your Life."
C'mon now. These articles are so overdone and don't say anything about the person writing them besides the fact that they want to get views by being "relatable". These articles are always going to exist, but the part I can't stand is that Odyssey KEEPS SHARING THEM.
The whole purpose of Odyssey is to give young people a platform to talk about what's on their minds, but it has turned into "whoever can right the most #relatable content will get shared three times this month because everyone loves #relatable content and we want to be popular". The concept of writing about an important issue, an original thought about a current event, or something to help others has faded into the background.
Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of great, meaningful content on Odyssey and sometimes they do get shared. But most of the time, the Odyssey page uses its influence for typical bullshit that gives Odyssey as a whole a negative stereotype.
I am calling on Odyssey to challenge yourselves. Step out of what has become routine for you and share something that everyone isn't expecting. Share something original, meaningful, something that someone clearly put a lot of effort into. Use your platform to show young people that they can have a voice and they can get their articles read by more than just their friends and family members.
Please don't be like the rest of the internet.