A clarification first. I said Thought Catalog thrives on the clicks of debate-hungry readers. I was wrong about that. What drives Thought Catalog is what has driven Thought Catalog for years: lists from 20-something girls or guys that other 20-somethings or possibly early 30-somethings want to follow on Twitter and hopefully have sex with. That is not up for debate.
Though in my defense, when I wrote my article, another article by Gavin McInnes was all the rage. And while I argued that Mr. McInnes did nothing wrong by Thought Catalog’s standards, I did say his brand of thinking – along with the brand of thinking from others like Jim Goad and Nicole Mullen and Anne Gus – was the beginning of the end for Thought Catalog being thought of as a website that published intelligent content.
Now, while some would argue Thought Catalog never published intelligent content, something else is not up for debate. A widely-read publication promoting writings with a hateful bent toward people that then later hides behind the skirt of “all thinking is relevant” when those same people get mad is being, at best, coy, and at worst, deceitful.
But this is what Ms. Stockton argues for here. Her thesis is laid out in the last paragraph wherein she hints that a way to lessen hate speech is by providing more platforms for people to express hate speech.
I assume Ms. Stockton wrote that because she needs to defend the organization she works for, but I also believe she is brainwashed by an internet culture that has convinced her – and plenty of others – that the more voices talking, the more informed we will be as a culture. Or, as Ms. Stockton writes, she does not want her news “prepackaged and maybe even spooned” into her mouth, unlike those who read publications like The New York Times that have writers who went to school to learn how to report the news.
Though the most crucial problem in Ms. Stockton’s article about the supposed myth of the hate click is that Thought Catalog, when at its most successful, panders to the lowest common denominator. I pointed that out here, and Ms. Stockton agreed by stating in her article that it is not the hate speech at Thought Catalog that gets the most clicks, but lists about Facebook statuses and lists about what healthy people do (spoiler: they eat well and exercise). Although, as an aside, Thought Catalog also profits from spikes in readership from articles specializing in hate speech, or, as the authors of those pieces would call it, “satire.”
But, okay, can we get personal for a second? I admire Ms. Stockton. I was not even offended, that of the hundreds of other articles calling out Thought Catalog, she chose mine. I never met her in person while we lived in the same city, but she did follow the creative writing blog I started, and she did interact with me on Twitter. She has always been the most helpful of anyone I ever dealt with at Thought Catalog. I have respect for her as a person of the internet. I never set out to assume anything about what she does or does not do for a living. I was writing from the standpoint of my experience, as anyone would.
What’s more, I do not hate Thought Catalog. I am critical of it because it is dishonest in its purpose of “just trying to start a discourse.” No discourse on the internet has ever inspired a bigot to transform into Gandhi. And it never will.
Simply put, providing a place for prejudiced thought is not helping anyone except for the few people who work for the place that provides prejudiced thought.