Anyone with a laptop knows the deal: you go on your computer with the intention of getting some work done, you open up your e-mail, Moodle, and then Facebook happens. Suddenly your productivity level has shot down to zero and you’re scrolling through your news feed with a level of attention that your statistics teacher wishes you would give to your homework. Inevitably, one of these many Facebook posts will lead to a BuzzFeed article or a post on Tumblr. As soon as you click on it, you can say goodbye to productivity of any sort. Why is it that we’re entertained by things like BuzzFeed and Tumblr? Realistically, all they are is a stream of photos and animated pictures called graphic interchange formats (gifs) with captions underneath them. Such sites hook people because they are relatable and make procrastination easy.
Tumblr pages like #Whatshouldwecallme and the BuzzFeed website in general do a great job with creating a general sense of relevance to everyone’s life. The posts are never incredibly specific–they’re simple, funny, and quick to read, everything the young adult’s mind and attention span desires. These posts are funny because the pictures, (often taken from popular television shows and movies) help to make our everyday experiences more humorous. A gif of Zooey Deschanel shoving her face with food is funny, but it’s made better and more relatable to the masses when the caption beneath it reads “Me on a diet.” It validates the way we feel about our own lives, and it gives us permission to now share these habits with the rest of the world via social media. Everyone wants to feel like they’re special, but no one wants to feel like they’re “special.” Gif websites not only allow people to see humor in the simple things in their life, they let them know it’s okay that they occasionally spaz-dance around their living room because, hey–Zooey Deschanel does it too!
In all honesty, the posts on these websites provide people with a good reason to not do their work. When you’re avoiding doing work–and, if you’re like me, you’re always in this predicament–gif websites provide a perfect distraction. By going on them and reading through the articles, you almost convince yourself that you’re doing something productive. It’s a step above online shopping and Facebook stalking, so it feels as if you’re not really avoiding your homework at all–you’re just doing something else.
BuzzFeed and Tumblr provide an effective form of procrastination and self-validation for people. They are simple, fun to read, and often humorous. The only real issue with them is that two hours after clicking on them, you realize you have a Spanish essay due tomorrow and the most progress you’ve made on it is a blank document and an open tab to the “Google Translate” page. On the bright side though, I’m sure it would make a really funny gif.