How Medium Became a Buzzfeed for the Elite
That’s how clickbait is supposed to work, huh? Am I doing this right? And why the hell can’t I center this block?
Here’s the scene:
You’re at a party, and you speak with new people, and you share interesting stories, thought-provoking stories, touching stories, and everything is nice and cozy and new. Hours fly and more people come in through the wide open door. Good! The more the merrier! Then more people come in. And more. And more. And after a while, there is nothing but white noise around you. Everyone speaks at the same time. The interesting, thought-provoking stories get drowned in the mass.
Oh well. This is how society works.
At one point, a guy comes near, standing uncomfortably close to you. You don’t mind, it’s a public space, and you keep talking with your friends and HOW YOU’D LIKE I SHARE WITH YOU 7 WEIRD TRICKS TO GET UP FASTER IN THE MORNING AND BE A MORE PRODUCTIVE UX LIFE HACK TECH ENTREPRENEUR BLARG BLORK?
You ignore the guy and his blabbering, and you try to go on with your conversation. But soon another guy comes by and you HEY MAN, WANNA KNOW WHY I DECIDED TO LIVE A WEEK WITHOUT GOING ONLINE AND HOW EATING MY OWN POOP CURED MY GLUTEN ADDICTION?
“Okay,” you think to yourself. “It’s probably time for me to go home.”
And so you leave the party. You head home. You’re growing a little frustrated, because it’s now a small crowd who’s following you, and HERE’S THE 10 THINGS I DID TO REBOOT MY LIFE you try to keep walking AND 33 WEBSITES THAT WILL MAKE YOU A GENIUS and you don’t enjoy this at all AND THE EVOLUTION OF SOFTWARE ENGINEERING FOR CISGENDER FAT-SHAMING VICTIMS because it’s just too difficult to think AND WHAT YOU SHOULD LEARN ABOUT ELON MUSK’S NEW BEDROOM TAPESTRY and you finally come home, but then MORE guys come by— MAN IT’S SO ANNOYING HAVING ALL THESE GUYS YAPPING ABOUT NOTHING YEAH I FIND THIS REALLY ANNOYING BECAUSE THEY LIKE DON’T LET ME EXPRESS MYSELF BECAUSE I’M LIKE BETTER THAN THIS SHIT AND I WANT TO STAND OUT AND HERE’S WHAT I WOULD DO IF I WERE THEM, AND I FIND THIS TOTALLY ANNOYING YEAH.
So what you do is you just don’t talk anymore. At all. You go to your place, you shut the door, and the blinds, and you sigh.
You know where I’m going with this.
I never liked big parties. I suspect most of the people who joined Medium at the beginning don’t either. Writers are lonely people who work in underwear, not party goers.
From what I see, Medium has become a kind of very, very nice-looking Buzzfeed. A Buzzfeed for the elite, if you will. A place where articles are about life-hacking, but also tech, and startups, and the best way to grow organic cantaloupes. A place where white people can talk about how it is to be black. A place where they can rant about what Medium does wrong (don’t you love the irony of this piece?). A place where uninteresting writers can write about writing instead of actually writing. A place where nothing meaningful ever happens.
Where are those stories now?
The first 20 most recommended articles are essentially meaningless bullshit or complaints against meaningless bullshit. This either means Medium is terribly designed — the single fact that you can’t control what appears on your “curated” feed may be a sign of it (yeah, I’m talking about being able to hide anything remotely related to Gary Vaynerchuck) — or it’s a definite proof people actually like meaningless bullshit (even those who actively say they don’t).
And of course, people do like meaningless bullshit.
They do seek pathetic advices on how to live their lives. They need these constantly. I do too, sometimes. When I’m drunk. Or I’m about to die. And it’s OK. But what this suggests is, the more people will come to Medium, the more meaningless bullshit there will be. It’s unavoidable. Plus the guys behind the platform will want to monetize it at some point, and it’s way easier to monetize meaningless bullshit everyone asks for than meaningful things no one wants to hear about.
The problem is not Medium. It’s not listicles. It’s not Gary Vaynerchuck (although he sure is an annoyance, like a mosquito buzzing over your head at night. Nothing a swatter can’t take care of.)
I am the problem. People like me are the problem.
I thought Medium was a haven. And it used to be, at some point.
But as of today it’s the ultimate white person hangout, to the point of cliché. All these politically correct posts, these outraged reactions, these feel-good new age advices, all this navel-gazing millenial crap (I’m a millenial, supposedly) and this entitled whining, it screams so much about self-conscious-white-BA-upper-middle-classness that I’m dizzy just thinking about it.
Medium has become the equivalent of a farmer’s market in New York City. Or a “pick your own fruit” day in the countryside — you know, the kind where you drive 45 minutes out of the city with hundreds of other motherfuckers who had the exact same idea, and where you fucking PAY to pick a basket of sorry apples by yourself, apples you will end up throwing away in the end because WHO THE HELL NEEDS SO MANY APPLES ANYWAY. So yeah, this is Medium now. A self-centered place reeking of smugness and first-world non-problems. A place so very content with itself that it doesn’t require you to think anymore.
Just like Buzzfeed.
To illustrate my feelings better, this is my reaction when I land on Medium’s home page these days:
Sure, there is the “responses” feature to help me use my brain. Well, but I have Reddit for that kind of stuff. Short-form? Isn’t that what Twitter is for? Or Tumblr? (Just kidding, everyone knows Tumblr is a place for angsty teenage girls to share moody pictures.)
Besides, I’ve never been a fan of this trend that implies you need to participate and share your opinions on every single thing you see. Human exchanges are naturally bound to fail — have you often suddenly changed your mind on something because of a stranger’s enlightening comment? Here’s a scoop: writing doesn’t have to be a two-way thing, in spite of all what everyone seems to be pushing for lately. I love feedback, positive or negative, but I don’t feel the need to discuss or explain or argue about what I write. It’s not my job. If I wanted to talk, I would fucking talk instead of write.
Note that I haven’t complained about my work’s lack of exposure. That’s because I recognize my stories are only appealing to a niche audience. I’m relatively satisfied with my below-average stats. Hell, with everything published online every minute, it’s a miracle I’m read at all!
I simply wanted Medium to be an exception, a safe place where I wouldn’t have to endure the same bullshit as everywhere else. It would have been nice. But apart from the attractive design, there’s nothing for me here anymore. I’ll still crosspost my future stories for wider reach, but I don’t see the point of trying further.
It’s time for me to leave the party.
It was a nice ride, Medium.
So long, and thanks for all the views.