What is “Buzzfeedifying”?

So as a precursor-I’m a big fan of Buzzfeed! I enjoy its articles for their brevity and simplistic nature. They are fun to read and share with others–in fact, reading Buzzfeed opens your world up to a lot of cultural references with a large shared audience. That way you have a ton of similar information to pull from to help you bond with others. However, I do have some problems with the way it has encouraged us (millennials, primarily but I’m sure others have been affected by it as well!) to only retain information if it is put in a list or illustrated with animated gifs.

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I’m now seeing articles that aim to address how to make content more shareable by encouraging “Buzzfeedifying”.

Buzzfeedifying: the act of turning a complex topic into a more shareable social media-optimized form by drastically shortening the content, formulating it into a list, and/or illustrating with memes or gifs.  (My own personal definition).

The biggest benefit to buzzfeedifying complex information is that it provides a larger audience the opportunity to learn about a deeper topic. I think this in turn enhances our ability to be aware of our world and our government. Heck, it could even potentially be seen as a benefit towards maintaining an informed democracy. (Idealistic view, I know, but one can have hopes!)

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But it also limits our capacity for deeper intellectual pursuits. We may soon become completely accustomed to absorbing shallow content which could lead to us becoming unwilling to challenge ourselves with lengthier, denser articles. Knowing the gist of important world issues is a great start–but getting to the heart of the matter is key to becoming truly aware. I may be wary of anything that reminds me of a pleasure-seeking society which discourages more intellectual pursuits (Brave New World) because I’ve been on a dystopian novel kick–but I think it’s important to keep in mind that buzzfeedifying content could be damaging to the way we process information in the long run.

Any thoughts on buzzfeedifying?

EDIT–For an example of an article from a reputable news source that “buzzfeedified” its content to get more traffic, check out this Huffington Post article on Book-Lovers Stereotypes

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4 thoughts on “What is “Buzzfeedifying”?

  1. We must have ESP! I was thinking about writing on the same topic last night, but you hit the nail on the head :) I was thinking about approximately what percentage of article titles start with a number (5 ways to…. 7 reasons you should… 21 things that…..) It’s disappointing to the effect that the attention span of the average young human is so short that they can’t be bothered to read something in depth unless it is chopped up, simplified, shortened and blasted over social media. But, like you said, it creates valuable opportunities to learn about a range of topics and share the informations quickly with anyone and everyone. I’m torn, and I think most of us are. But we ride the wave of digital content anyhow. Great blog post, looking forward to reading more from you!

    Take care,
    Monica

    • Thanks so much, Monica! It’s especially difficult for me to confront these torn feelings because while I may *want* to say that of COURSE I like longer, more informative articles, I know that I spend triple the amount of time viewing, sharing, and discussing “buzzfeedified” content. I’m definitely doing a follow-up post on this analyzing the psychology behind why articles that “buzzfeedify” the content do so well with us. Stay tuned! :)

      Rachel

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