Dear Thought Catalog, I Still Love You

Criticism of Thought Catalog and other similar websites is insightful. But I still love to read it.

Yes, you do have a moment. Just Google “Thought Catalog criticism”. The auto-detector spells it out for you before you finish typing the search term. You may find some interesting writers that argue against this forum.

My favorite used to be a site that created its own Thought Catalog page, which is dedicated to telling the truth about the many lackluster or offensive voices that Thought Catalog publishes. As if to say: “this is a generational catastrophe”. Maybe. Predictable (but not unusual) to see traditional media upset about an experimental website. Are you worried about people having something to say that you may not like, or is it too offensive? Or is it that contributors don’t meet your standard of excellence and moral authority?

Words are thrown about like: entitlement, over-privileged, hate-reading, trolling and best of all, smug. It’s obvious how easy it is to cherry pick the worst things said by a percentage of people and make it out to be some generational spinfest. What offends me is how mainstream outlets dropped the ball before the Iraq War. Where were they on NSA tradecraft pre-Wikileaks? Or how is it possible to spend that much time discussing Justin Bieber on CNN between Sochi security concerns and winter storm Maximus.

One writer wrote “Isn’t there another model?” Good point. However, maybe it’s time to see where this leads us, good or bad. My intention is not to turn off readers to Thought Catalog. But there are a number of other forums that have taken a page from this one. A good example is PolicyMic, which offers interesting and serious commentary about public policy (without the paywall). There are still the typical top five, eight, ten and twelve lists; but the content includes more insights about the many challenges humans face. For me, this entire digital form is a potential way of communicating problems and points to issues that people face right now.

New digital forms offer us rare insights into what people are actually experiencing. From hardship, joy and pain, there is much to read about how people feel about their daily lives. It’s not about how savvy your point of view is. No one, except maybe David Brooks (See his piece in New York Magazine this week), is a walking encyclopedia that strikes a chord on what is happening right now in America. But at least we have people willing to bare their soul for the chance to see their words in print. It might be fragile, inelegant, brash or even offensive to people. But at least we have the forum to debate it. That is, if you do your homework. The love affair with words and thoughts can be real. Seize it.

Digiday recently posted an article about how millennials are expressing themselves online. It describes “the voice” of millennials being taken up by new sites like @policymic. Let’s not forget the Arab Spring and those that used Facebook to organize and spur revolutions in government and culture. There are endless possibilities that have yet to be tapped by people who are still getting used to the idea of digital and social media.

My heart tells me that this new form of communication, however innovative or not, at least gives a digital snapshot or maybe a daguerreotype into the world that we all inhabit. Culturally speaking, maybe I’m out of touch for this website, but I still love it. And I’m appreciative of the chance to tell you that. You may be a troll or just out for some cheap clicks. But at least people recognize that just for an instant during our short time here, that it’s OK to make a statement even if it’s smug. TC mark

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