Upworthy is the worst site on the Internet. Their mission statement is smug, backpatting, faux-activist horseshit. Their headlines are the purest, crack-cocaine of clickbait. And when you do click, the content they've dredged up from YouTube never, ever pays off.
CEO Eli Pariser told The Atlantic that critics of the Upworthy model are "snarky New Yorkers who see [our headlines] too many times in their feed." Nope, we just don't like being lured to click on stuff by deceptive hyperbolic declarations claiming complex issues can be addressed (and occasionally resolved) in a two minute YouTube clip. Also, we keep being promised our jaws will drop, but they never do.
To keep you from experiencing that disappointed, "Ew, I just clicked on an Upworthy link" feeling, we click on five of the links all your Facebook friends will be sharing each week so you don't have to. Spoilers for each headline below.
Spoiler: It's a PSA about the effort to eradicate polio worldwide, and it's announcing a benefit concert in Australia that was held in October of 2011. Yup, it's announcing a benefit that took place more than two years before this post went live. So there's a chance that polio has already been wiped out in the interim between this video's release and the day it finally hit Upworthy. The history lesson part is that people in the 50s briefly thought polio was linked to ice cream (double-spoiler: it's not). As for the wake-up call, no idea. Maybe it's "Make sure to wake up in time to go to a concert in Australia two years ago."
Spoiler: The farm. We're 5 generations "removed from the farm." That's the opening quote of this trailer for a documentary called Farmland, which looks to be about what it's like to be a farmer today. I guess the quote means five generations ago we all worked on farms. The headline, I'm guessing, means five generations ago there were farms all over the place. Jesus, for Upworthy clickbait, this is bottom rung. Makes me think the author couldn't get more than five seconds into the clip before he phoned in a headline and hit lunch. Does anyone really want to find out what was all around them five generations ago? My guesses were cigarette billboards featuring doctors and whites only coffee shops. But the real answer, "farms," was a snooze. Looks like a good documentary though. Watch it here!
Spoiler: She experienced sexism. Not trying to undercut it. The headline makes it sound like she had one specific experience that turned her into a feminist, but nope. She speaks generally about having experienced the kind of frustration every woman experiences. Having her ideas dismissed because she's a woman, being catcalled and harassed, inappropriate come-ons by employers. Perhaps the writer wasn't just trying to intrigue us with a hint at some life-changing experience, but was subtly making the point that what this woman experienced was what every woman experiences, which is why every woman, and really everyone should be a feminist. Yeah, Upworthy was being subtle! Come on, it's possible. I WANT TO BELIEVE!!!
Spoiler: Ralph Lauren. He had a show using shelter dogs as fashion accessories to promote pet adoption.
Spoiler: Headline makes it sound like a group of little girl geniuses built some kind of amazing invention that will guarantee them scholarships to an ivy league school, but it's a toy commercial. It's a pretty great toy commercial for Goldie Blox, a company that is trying to market toys that steer young girls away from pink and princesses and encourage them to be engineers. The commercial shows some girls who've built an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine in their house and we watch it unravel to the tune of a rewritten cover of Beastie Boys' "Girls." Check it out:
The toys being sold are comparatively simple "builder" toys that let girls construct little contraptions that extend from the plot of an accompanying storybook. The ad is supposed to imply what girls are capable of if you encourage them down the right path, but the author of this post seems to think he's watching a documentary, and he's ready to devote his life to securing these young actresses an education. On a related note, I saw some women playing beach volleyball in a Miller Light commercial over the weekend and I want to do what I can to help them get into the Olympic qualifiers. Who do I call?
Bonus! I think we got to see some of Upworthy's much-touted headline testing here! The headline on the actual post wants to send these girls to Stanford, but the headline on the front page went with "Harvard."
They must have concluded that Harvard doesn't get clicks. Neither does simply stating that there's a cool new commercial for a pretty admirable toy company, like the writers at HuffPo and io9 dared to do. What saps!
Another awesome Upworthy alternative: writer Mike Lacher created the Upworthy Generator to provide you with all the Upworthy headlines you could ever need and IT WILL MAKE YOUR JAW DROP!!!
(by Bob Powers)