I came across thoughtcatalog.com somewhere in the range of two years ago. I was intrigued by the simple layout and the idea of young writers sharing their commentary on arts and culture in creative ways. There were reviews of the arts: theater, movies, television, music and literature. And all of it was coming from 20-somethings, my peers, which seemed to carry more weight than reading another review from Roger Ebert. Not only that, there were some other articles that attempted to sum up the personal angst of young life and love, again in creative ways. A pursuit that can be mundane or cliché at times, but is worthwhile nonetheless. Even the normally predictable lists seemed atypical, cute even. Sure the young website I had developed an affinity for wasn’t without its flaws. Some articles were littered with young minds overreaching their own knowledge, but talking out of one’s ass is typical not only of the internet but life. Others rambled and lost their coherence or cohesiveness. Regardless, these seemingly few and small inconsistencies didn’t detour my interest. Perhaps it was my own naiveté that was showing. The website had caught me — she had caught me in her web.
After a short night of reading about her and then agreeing to her “terms and conditions” our love affair began. Not only did I bookmark Thought Catalog but I followed her through all avenues of social media as well, allowing her to graffiti across my timelines and feeds. At first, I paused to read the title of every new post. And indeed, I read a majority of the articles. New, interesting, it was more than just palatable. Delectable. Borderline sinful even.
I’m not sure when the honeymoon ended. But the fall — that started predictably enough. Those things that I once found cute became so reoccurring, so banal. And at the forefront came the lists. They no longer stimulated the muscles in my cheeks to curl my mouth into a small smile. Rather they stimulated the rectus muscles of my eyes to look upwards and away, while forcing a small exhale from my lungs. And soon they became so numerous and cancerous, that it became all I saw when I looked at her. Something had changed. Something in her. Maybe something in me. It was hard to tell.
I allowed the idea to fester inside of me for some time. I didn’t want to actualize that one of my favorite websites had devolved. Devolved into a more stylistic, yet inept, cracked.com. I had ways of justifying it to myself, knowing all the while our broken relationship was on the verge of collapse.
“It was just a phase. She… the real her, would come back. It would be like it was. Right? Right?”
I knew it was over, but I couldn’t just give two years of my life without getting some closure. I wanted answers. No, I deserved answers. So I searched through her pages looking for them. I started with the old articles. Many of them were as I remember them, others littered with gaffes that I never noticed or maybe overlooked. Still others, seemed almost nostalgic now; harkening back to a fleeting golden era. But nowhere in them could I find where or how things changed.
It was all there. All those qualities I first fell for, even the smug superiority. Nothing made sense. Sure some of her promises seemed two faced now and even angered me. “Vanguard.” If these were the boundaries we had come to push against, then we had fenced ourselves in much more than I ever realized. But we had started with the best of intentions. Where did we go wrong? When did you become just a space to store predicable “how to’s” and compilations? And when did I become your confidant to such travesties? I couldn’t find it anywhere. It wasn’t in your pages, nor the list on your “About” pa…
Your “About” page is a list. It’s a list on a website endowed with the surname “Catalog.” It was there the whole fucking time. We were star-crossed from the get go. Mismatched. Doomed. I suppose I should have seen this from the get go, but you caught me with your appeals so quickly. The fall was so quick and rise so slow.
Maybe there will come a time when the initials TC will only remind me of a gingered, short story author with the last name Boyle. But until then all that I will think about is the unrequited promise of something more. A promised land turned to ash. Who knows maybe we’ll find each other again and things will be different. Maybe we’ll be able to figure out what went wrong without making a list or writing a DIY on how to fix it, but I can’t wait around for that. So, farewell Thought Catalog.