There is a difference between calling attention to one’s work via its substance and deliberately riling one’s readership. The line between tabloid journalism and what one might consider more “reputable” media is vanishing, as we prioritize sensationalism over discourse. To be sure, newspapers and other media are businesses in a highly competitive (online) landscape, and growing readership or viewership is of great importance. It must be increasingly difficult to market balanced, long-form content when the average human today has an attention span shorter than that of a goldfish. Nonetheless, a media market that sacrifices nuance in intellectual discussion and presents deliberately biased arguments with the hope or intent of going ‘viral’ is a race to the bottom.
An example: The word “creepy” is often thrown around by young women describing the various shades of men that they encounter. An unfamiliar man asks you on a date? He’s “creepy.” A boy makes flirtatious advances towards you at a party? “Creepy.” A male classmate texts you back one too many times? Still “creepy.” Yes, of course, some men engage in creepy behavior, and I have no doubt that a number of these incidents actually warrant the label; however, the overuse of the word has meant that it has lost its significance.
Aditi T. Sundaram ’19 is a joint concentrator in Mathematics and Philosophy in Eliot House. Her column appears on alternate Wednesdays.