The New York Times has just published a blistering review of BuzzFeed. Yes, BuzzFeed is maddening and crazy and frenetic and vaguely unnerving, but the NYT nails it:
The site knows that successful diversion depends on continually toggling its joystick between micronostalgia for the past (â€œ55 Things Only â€™90s Teenage Girls Can Understandâ€) and microexaminations of the latest microtrend (â€œThe â€˜Gingers Have Soulsâ€™ Kid Just Released a Hip-Hop Music Videoâ€). BuzzFeed will simultaneously pretend that joy is an ever-renewable resource (â€œ13 Cute Kid Vines Youâ€™ll Watch Over and Over Againâ€) while also hinting that our stores of happiness are dangerously low and dwindling (â€œ13 Holidays Youâ€™ve Been Celebrating Totally Wrongâ€). ...Have a look at the Onion parody they reference, too: it's awesome. But that brings up an interesting question: we've got Facebook's Timeline (which we now know is manipulated), Reddit, various sites like this one, and dozens of big and small sites trying to be the first and fastest to spot or create trends, broach news subjects, or get people talking (and viewing advertisements). Is this as far as we're going to go? What's the next step? Are sites like Slashdot old news? Is the BuzzFeed frenzy ultimately unsustainable? Is it "32 news sites you should be reading daily"?
In fact, the more time you spend on BuzzFeed, the more the boundaries between â€œwinâ€ and â€œfailâ€ seem to blur. After a while, itâ€™s impossible not to slip into a disassociative trance, in which you surrender to the allure of some perpetual, trivial nowhereland, nestled somewhere between â€œ15 Cats That You Donâ€™t Want to Mess Withâ€ and the â€œ44 Hong Kong Movie Subtitles Gone Wrong.â€