Dear Daily Mail, Your Viral Content About the Houston Flood Victims Is Shit
When xoJane met its rightful demise some years ago, the toxicity of viral content that requires dehumanizing ourselves for the exchange of information that’s coerced by writers, who are addicted to shitty fare for the entertainment of spiteful commentators, was already the deadly virus that would continue to deface the dignity of online journalism.
The irony has to be the fact that the industry is currently in dire straits as media outlets struggle to stay afloat, amid the monthly announcements of yet another shuffle or shutdown of departments for the purpose of reducing costs for the mandate of weathering the heat from competitors.
Back when I was a novice and figuring out the best way to draw attention to my writing, my preferred method was and still is based solely on the consistency of output, and the reluctance to pepper my delivery with hints of salaciousness for the reward of mind-blowing traffic numbers.
But I got the epic lesson of how talent won’t be the feature that sustains your career in a crowded market of content producers when I was abruptly dismissed by a popular Black women’s publication, for failing to adequately showcase the level of engagement that would warrant maintaining my services.
My naive response was embedded in the shock of how my passionately curated pieces that effectively tackled subjects of cultural relevance didn’t seem to convince the editors of my worthy contribution to their platform because of how those numbers didn’t add up.
A couple of years later, while stationed at the newsroom of one of the prominent industry trade publications, I got another wake up call that confirmed how time spent strategizing the best options for viral headlines for overnight tweets, was more valuable than ensuring error-free and astutely written articles that could easily be edited after publishing.
We simply can’t count how many times we’ve stumbled upon online furor over misleading headlines that are deposited for the viewership of flighty readers, who pounce on the exciting opportunity to gain visibility from the unnecessary bitchfest, that wouldn’t be active if anyone bothered to click on the link and read the entire essay.
But then you have the other side of this epidemic that depicts headlines that seem harmless and even fun, until you dig deeper and discover the causal offensiveness that causes you to wonder how our humanness got replaced with robotic tendencies that endorse the cruelty of mocking real-life victims of natural disasters.
The Daily Mail has never wavered in the quest of following the disgusting themes of another revolting outlet, The New York Post, in the realm of publishing daily reminders of why viral content is almost always absolute shit.
From the horrific front page display that woefully capitalized on the horrors of the 9/11 terrorists attacks with the image of the burning towers and the words of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, blended in with the full effect of Islamophobia, to the nonstop bigoted fare from the Daily Mail that focuses on Britain’s legal harassment of Meghan Markle — there’s no shortage of items to populate the wasteland of trash.
And while I will take ownership of the role I play in feeding the beast of our discontent as a roving journalist who finds herself wandering into the den of heinousness, there’s a sense of duty that overrides my sporadic engagement with diseased portals.
Imagine the shocker of stumbling on a headline from the Daily Mail that callously reduces the ongoing recovery efforts of victims of the mammoth rainstorm, that overwhelmed Houston not long ago, to an unsightly punchline that aims to shame unsuspecting residents, who wearily trudge though waters that drenched the city with threats of accidentally falling into deep puddles.
There’s even grainy footage provided by a local onlooker and certified asshole, who had the audacity to film adults and children, wading into the muddy waters without the knowledge of what was about to happen with just one step into the deeper hole.
We have to assume that the incentive for patiently and willfully filming these episodes of pedestrians unknowingly falling into a watery trap is the glory of being an honorary member of the viral club with possible compensation in the form of the clips that serve as the “medal of dishonor.”
And while it’s no surprise that there are enough heartless bastards who don’t possess basic human decency when it comes to rejecting the brief temptation to sell your soul for the win of clips, that go viral based on the joke of flood victims succumbing to the dangers of their plight, we can’t ever give a pass to notable publications that validate this climate of normalized orneriness.
It’s clear that most online editors are demonstratively inexperienced and incredibly unprofessional to the point of criminality, which explains the many instances when badly written pieces that are inappropriately contrived, are inexplicably gifted permission to see the light of day, despite glaring symptoms of a potential controversy.
The judgment calls that used to be implemented by trained editorial specialists, who are able to readily assess content with the assistance of common sense, and additional skill sets that are acquired through the channels of scholarly exposure, have been conquered by the never-ending thirst for material that grabs our attention for the wrong reasons.
The practiced coercion of readers by any means necessary is costing us the dignified status of our humanness, because of the normalized pulse of browsing though cluttered front pages of brand names, that are dependent on the traffic flow stemming from activities of desensitized visitors, who are accustomed to viral videos that devalue the visible pain of Black and Brown victims.
Shame on the editorial staff of the Daily Mail, better known as “viral vipers” who are paid to solicit heartrending footage that shows a man holding his baby as he attempts to cross a large pool of water with his other kids and their mother, before she’s the first to fall into the invisible hole.
This potent climate of obsession towards anything that has the capacity to “go viral” is converting inspiring themes of hope and goodwill toward humanity into the tragic opposite of those disappearing attributes.
There’s nothing hilarious about the sobering imagery of the aftermath of a natural disaster that floods an entire city, and inevitably places the lives of residents in potential danger.
The forecast for the durability of online journalism is bleak at best, and that has a lot to do with the exhaustion of recycled jargon as well as the mind-numbing content that won’t be able to survive the imminent shift away from the damaging tradition of profiting from the misfortunes of fellow humans.
It’s all shit, at the end of the day, which means that at some point we won’t be able to keep it down.