We need to talk about…the bipolar nature of Twitter Moments and similar outlets
Can we talk about the damage being done by the crowding of random headlines on the web, and how the urgent need to get as much shit out on a page as editorially possible, is doing way more harm and nothing good.
This has been a pet peeve of mine that I developed when I began to notice how online outlets like People Magazine, tend to present homepages that are cluttered with the personal stories that evoke a drastic range of emotions that leave readers mentally exhausted.
You are deeply moved by the cancer patient who is beating the odds, and then immediately drawn to the disturbing images of the gorgeous family that is no more — thanks to the murderous father and his libido. And at the bottom is the collage of smiling faces of the victims of gun violence that turned a high school into bloody mess, and next to it is the survival story of the little girl who was hit by a car last week. And at the very top, we’re greeted with joyousness of celebrity moms and their latest additions. But the middle section is in competition for attention, with the sweet photo of a sweetly placed teenage girl, who was killed by the guy who impregnated her.
And that’s just half of the front page items that greet the roving eyes of visitors.
When all that stuff is smashed next to each other with the reckless casualness of ticking off the list of compulsory placement, one has to wonder about the temperature of those who are tasked with this assignment on a daily basis.
As unhealthy as it is for those of us who survey the wasteland of bulletins, it has to be even more terminal for the staff because of how accustomed they get to internalizing a shitload of heds that all have to fit on that main page — come what may.
At first you try your hardest to fix it all in ways that provide coherency, but that painstaking option eats up way too much time, and it soon becomes standard procedure to take the bunch of the bunch, and neatly stack them all in the corners where they fit — without blinking an eye.
This is absolutely the reason why online journalism has converted humans into robotic creatures who take it all in like champs, and then move on like nothing ever happened.
Horrific details about how a grizzly bear devoured a mother and child in the wilderness make Moments hard to bear, until we scan right below and learn about the intense buzz of an upcoming celebrity wedding. Minutes later, the refreshed vertical features sadness of parents clutching their dying little boy — and right next to it is the holiday spirit of pet peeves and pet photos with Father Christmas.
It’s hard not to be horrified by how we’ve been cunningly trained to absorb bipolar deliveries like pros.
I’m thankfully old enough to remember skimming through the pages of Newsweek and being aware of how the sections seamlessly and appropriately divided the bulk of news items in ways that gave both readers and subjects the due respect required.
Death announcements never collided with new births, and content that was graphically violent or highly triggering didn’t get shoved in your face unless you opened the pages and faced what you knew was coming.
As a result, we just naturally had the reverence for mankind that’s necessary and acutely missing these days — because of the sensory overload, and how the presentation of vastly different themes are no longer served with the mindfulness of journalists, who care about state of mind.
It’s not appetizing to be weathering this climate of nonchalance, that has to be feted for the sake of traffic lights and the numbers game, that make it very hard to leave anything out.
And so we jam it wherever it fits — regardless of whether or not the snugness is tightly inappropriate.
I never want to get to that place where I can comfortably scroll through a plethora of deliveries, and not feel like utter shit after being alerted about the bloody blood clot in the shape of arteries that a dead man coughed up, and then pleasantly greeted by the good-natured story that warms the heart — in one fell swoop.
I’m just not wired that way. Are you?