I’ve been looking at a lot of popular online magazines to see what makes them so popular. One of the publications I’ve been keeping up with was Upworthy. It’s a left-leaning, self-described “social media with a mission: to make stuff as viral as a video of some idiot surfing off of his roof.” It sounds like a noble mission statement, but Upworthy takes it a step too far.
They have a successful business model of making things successful. Clickbait headlines and a spam of share buttons make their articles very easy to spread. In fact, the Being Liberal fan page and several other liberal Facebook pages frequently turn to Upworthy when low on content.
However, their “about” page claims that they have “no right-column sleaze. Just a stream of irresistibly sharable stuff you can click on without feeling bad about yourself afterwards.” I respectfully disagree. In fact, the first headline to exemplify this statement reads “If This Video Makes You Uncomfortable, Then You Make Me Uncomfortable.” It’s the perfect clickbait headline to get you to watch the video about a homosexual couple doing ordinary mundane things just like any heterosexual couple would. It’s a nice video until a message at the end pops up asking me if I support marriage equality and to share that video to Facebook.
I do support marriage equality, but I don’t think sharing to Facebook does anything to help that. What made me uncomfortable about the video was the fact that I had to hit the [x] button on the prompt that popped up afterwards. I think it trivializes the argument to the equivalent of “like if you hate cancer,” posts on Facebook. If we’re on Upworthy, it’s safe to assume we agree with the message you want to get across.
The entire premise of their point is to only post things that don’t make you feel bad about afterwards and is nullified by their ridiculous prompts to share their content. It works on the bleeding-heart crowd and, as a result, helps their views, but it doesn’t serve the causes they claim to support when it’s framed in such a way.
It’s gone from being a noble mission to being the political correctness police of the left. More videos are being posted about things you might have known were offensive, but are. I leave each article feeling worse about my state of mind, but that’s their point. I’m against the political correctness movement because I feel that the focus should be on toughening up the victim rather than punishing the bully. Their will always be bullies in life, and the only way to beat them is to, well, beat them. It doesn’t help the situation to tell the bully that their behavior is offensive.
Even worse is when someone didn’t even mean to say something offensive, but it is interpreted in a way that is. People on Upworthy try so hard to be offended by other people’s behavior that I feel it does more of a disservice to the victims when it’s trivialized in such a way. For example: Upworthy shared a video with the headline “She just wanted to give him a balloon. Here’s why in this situation, that is incredibly offensive.” It’s about a mentally disabled person who goes through life with people either taking caution around him or showing acts of kindness. The narrator complains about people he doesn’t even know smiling at him or paying for him.
So now Upworthy wants me to feel bad for being kind to disabled people, but prior knowledge also says we shouldn’t mimic them or call them names. There is indeed a middle ground, but the problem is that pretending to be blind and deaf to everyone’s situation doesn’t help anyone. We need to embrace the differences if we are to live in a more accepting society. Tiptoeing around broken glass just builds tension that will delay the problem from being addressed, but doesn’t fix it.
Upworthy posts meaningful content as opposed to much of the nonsense Buzzfeed puts out. I just wish that Upworthy wouldn’t trivialize liberal viewpoints to spread their politically correct agenda to make it look like we’re all just desperate for likes.