[Editor’s Note: Before you read any further, just know that, well, this defense of Hitler actually happened]
Unlike most of the rest of the world, I do not see Thought Catalog as the “personification of bullshit” or the most “bullshit” website that has ever existed.
Thought Catalog is simply a website like many websites today. And just like almost all websites today, its actions are defined by a core belief, greed, ego and a certain love for the pageviews it needs.
The more sensitive readers would react now with “whoa! whoa! Thought Catalog and love?! Thought Catalog is BULLSHIT! BULLSHIT!”
Bullshit does not exist, but is a concept of the human intellect. What do we define as bullshit? We tend to associate ridiculously idiotic things with bullshit, or things we do not agree with. Essentially, what we feel or think is bullshit is simply what we do not agree with.
“Who cares about a technical definition? What Thought Catalog did was BULLSHIT!”
Publishing an article defending Hitler? That must be bullshit, right?
As I just said, no website does anything without a reason. And like I just said, any website’s actions are triggered by its own ego, greed, and core belief.
Thought Catalog believed that not writing something completely full of shit was harming its page views. Thought Catalog believed that the having low page views was bad for their bottom line. Thought Catalog believed that it and a middle-schooler’s C- understanding of history should become united.
These all came from its belief.
“Its beliefs are BULLSHIT!”
Like I just said, we define something as bullshit when this something does not agree with our moral standards.
Web users quickly defined inane rambling “think pieces” as bullshit because they hate inane rambling think pieces. “Anonymous” morons [Actually, looks like the original author is a one C.K. Bachman] who write terrible social studies essays defending Hitler do not pass the “wait, what the fuck is this garbage?” detector imbued in anyone with a pulse. And because they does not, they are defined as “laughable” and “bullshit”.
Now in retrospect, can they really be defined as bullshit? No.
Of course I am not saying that what Thought Catalog did was right. Of course not. I am saying that Thought Catalog is not bullshit, but simply a website who did what it believed was right for its page views at that time. Of course, just like any website today, its actions were also motivated by greed, ego and more greed. But it is important to make the distinction that Thought Catalog is not an exception. They are simply a website who didn’t get away with it.
For example, Buzzfeed gets away with it. Huffington Post (kind of) gets away with it. The moderators at Reddit get away with it.
And as a writer on the internet allow me to assure you, when compared to the onslaught of idiotic “Which Disney Princess/College Mascot/Kitchen Appliance Are You?” quizzes, the bullshit at Thought Catalog can be considered merciful.
“But Thought Catalog brings misery to everyone who reads it! It is bullshit!”
This might be what the more persistent readers will be saying/thinking.
Perhaps why the perception of Thought Catalog being bullshit is so deeply rooted in so many peoples’ minds is that after we all got sick of making fun of Upworthy headlines, we needed to have a focus. Buzzfeed and Huffington Post perhaps are not remembered as completely bullshit because in the last few months, the average web user sought ephemeral distraction on their Facebook news feed, and both Buzzfeed and HuffPo gave us all a laugh or two. This left Thought Catalog.
So naturally, Thought Catalog gets the put in the “Bullshit” bookmark folder.
Yet, Thought Catalog is not an exception even by today’s standards.
The web’s need to crank out mindless, inarticulate, drivel may be justified by the core belief that getting page views is right without question. It is ironic that it seems that very few people have ever thought about why there is this mindless, inarticulate, drivel to begin with.
Now in retrospect, we can see that a big part this drivel was a certain class of websites’ sensationalism greed. Greed for page views.
The gleeful mockery of Upworthy headlines over the last few months, that mad sparkle of euphoria in users eyes as they tore down a site that, at its core was trying to provide a positive counter-balance for the prevailing negativity of the internet (disturbing, isn’t it?) was very much the same sparkle I see in those who would label Thought Catalog bullshit.
So, do not brainlessly brand Thought Catalog as pure bullshit. If you strictly judge, it is simply a website that did what it believed was right, along with greed and ego as motivators (just like any website today). Nothing more, nothing less.
Paul Krugman is off today