Why I’m no longer reading Thought Catalog

Evidently, I’m not the only one who no longer wants to read Thought Catalog. Even though it’s one of the 50 most-visited sites in America, it has still encountered backlash. So much backlash, in fact, that the Washington Post did an in-depth story investigating the website.

Thought Catalog, which I used to read from time to time, seems to have become a popular outlet for publishing hateful, poorly-written opinions to the masses. The website publishes a variety of articles from numerous authors, and admittedly, not all of them are negative. However, the racist, homophobic, and ignorant opinions have tainted Thought Catalog, and after I read the Washington Post’s article, it’s clear that I’m not the only one who thinks so.

The website has been in hot water over articles it posted in the past, and that I thankfully didn’t read. But there was an article Thought Catalog posted yesterday that provoked this post I’m currently writing, and it’s the one I want to focus on.

The article-in-question is entitled, “Can We Please Stop Pretending Like We Don’t All Have Racist Songs We Sing In Private?” by Nicole Mullen. Her article is a response to the SAE fraternity members at Oklahoma State University who recited a racist chant and were caught on tape.

The title should be reason enough to stop reading Thought Catalog. The title alone is problematic, not just for its ignorance, but also for the simple fact that it’s a crappy title. Thought Catalog is so successful not because it publishes quality content, but because it publishes “click bait.” This term to me gives a negative connotation, meaning that the title is crafted specifically for the number of clicks. Instead of writing quality content, the site is churning out articles with catchy or controversial titles, but the content within the article is questionable at times.

The first problem with the content of the article itself is that she claims that because the fraternity brothers sang the song instead of speaking it, that this alleviates the controversy.

It doesn’t.

She then goes on to say, “Can we all just stop pretending like we don’t have racist songs that we sing when no one is looking?”

Source: imgarcade.com

Source: imgarcade.com

Okay, so there are two problems with the question she’s asking:

1. The fraternity members weren’t singing this “when no one was looking.” There was a whole crew of them singing the racist song. So it wasn’t one person alone in his shower singing the “Racist Slur Anthem for Ignorant Fraternity Members.”

2. Who sings racist songs like that in the first place? Like ever? I don’t know about you, but when I sing in the shower, it’s not usually a racist-filled chant that sounds as if it was written in the 1860’s. Usually I stick to singing Adele.

If you think the author’s problems stopped there, think again my friend. After I read this next paragraph, I was THISCLOSE to losing my faith in humanity:

“It’s human nature to express things through art, and sorry guys, but music is art. Racism is natural, and while it’s something that we should correct, if we suppress it in our regular behavior it has to come out through artistic endeavors. Think about all the idle swastikas you’ve doodled in your downtime. Think about how many times you’ve made up silly little parody songs in your head that use racial slurs.”

I will agree with the author that music is art. Yes, she’s got one thing right in her article so far.

Source: quickmeme.com

Source: quickmeme.com

However, her accuracies within the article stop there.

She claims that when someone draws swastikas and writes songs with racial slurs, it’s “art”?

Source: makeameme.org

Source: makeameme.org

The only people I know who actually did that were, in fact, racists.

For the record: no, just because you doodle anti-Semitic symbols on your notebook or sing songs containing the n-word doesn’t mean you’re a tortured artist. It means you’re a racist.

Guess what? Directly after the author states that swastikas and racial slurs in songs are examples of “art,” she then regales us with stories proving that she’s a racist. Do I dare put her horrific examples in block quotes? Just for illustrative purposes, I’ll let her direct quotes speak for themselves:

“There’s four Chinese people that work at the grocery store near my house, and whenever I see them, in my head I play a different little theme song for each one. And yeah, all of their songs are incredibly racist. One of them is just that song from the old Chips Ahoy commercials – the ones where the melody is Sing, Sing, Sing and the lyrics are all about Chips Ahoy cookies, but I’ve replaced “Chips” with a racial slur. Sometimes I’ll just hum the melody in their face. They don’t know the lyrics so they don’t know its offensive. They just think I like jazz. It feels good and it makes me laugh.

And when I see Muslims? Hell, if I’m not terrified and scanning the area for the nearest police officer, I’m playing a little tune in my head that I imagine would lure a snake out of a basket. Either that or one of the songs from Aladdin.”

Source: memeaddicts.com

Source: memeaddicts.com

This author is claiming that humming a song in people’s faces (when the tune has racial slurs against the people she’s targeting) is acceptable. Why does she claim that it makes her feel good and make her laugh? My theory is that it’s because she’s insecure and angry, and so she’s taking out her anger on others. Humming a racist tune in front of people makes her feel superior somehow.

Her racism even extends to Muslims, when she claims that whenever she sees a Muslim, she looks for a police officer (which connotes that she’s making an assumption that the Muslim is a criminal, maybe a terrorist).

I have no words. I just. Guys. I can’t even.

Source: quickmeme.com

Source: quickmeme.com

Thank God her article is short. She concludes that she’s disgusted that we condemn these fraternity boys for singing a racist song, and something about how she thinks most of us want to live in an America where we are free to sing our racist songs. Racial slurs is free speech, y’all! It’s my country and I’ll slur if I want to, slur if I want to…

Source: errantdiner.com

Source: errantdiner.com

Thought Catalog has posted several other articles like this, and it’s evident that they’re continuing to publish only for the clicks. The Washington Post article was published in October, and after the backlash the website endured, one would think the employees would be striving to avoid further trouble. Clearly, as long as they’re achieving the numbers, that’s all that matters.

I’m done reading Thought Catalog, and I’m hoping that either they improve their content or others stop reading. Articles like this only allow hate and racism to continue and remain socially acceptable.

66 thoughts on “Why I’m no longer reading Thought Catalog

  1. I started reading them forever ago. And somewhere along the line I just lost interest. I don’t remember if there was a particular article or anything like that, but I haven’t read anything on there in months. And have no intention of doing so. Great post.

    • Thank you! That’s how I was, too. I lost interest because the articles just weren’t well-written and all sounded the same to me. But when I came across this post, I just had to write something about it.

  2. I think the article in question is supposed to be like an Onion satire article. The only problem to me is the article wasn’t funny and Thought Catalog isn’t The Onion.

    • I wonder if that’s what it was supposed to be. If it was, it sure didn’t come off that way. Definitely not funny, and you’re exactly right–Thought Catalog is not The Onion.

      • When I read it, I was like “what tha!”. Then I saw it was tagged humor. But it isn’t well written or funny.

        Then I saw the author description, “Just a fun mom and a teacher at a retarded school. I like recipes and my kids”… that isn’t funny either. I mean is it supposed to be funny just because she used the word retarded? That isn’t clever. Very poor attempt at humor. I give her an F-.

        The author should try harder.

      • I noticed that it was tagged as humor as well. It honestly didn’t even dawn on me that she’d made a sad attempt at satire. All I thought was, “Why is this tagged as humor? This isn’t funny.”

        I noticed her description and I wondered if she’s just the type of person who thinks that throwing in derogatory terms into a sentence makes it funny. That’s my assumption.

        She should definitely try harder!

  3. I was introduced to Thought Catalog through “I’m not going to pretend that I’m poor To be Accepted by you” article from a few years ago. That was my introduction to thought catalog. I never became a loyal reader, but I could tell nothing has change.

  4. I’ve never been to that website, and now I know to never try it. When I first started reading her quotes I thought she was writing from a defensive posture, but the more I read I realized that she had no shame. Thank you for this post.

    • You’re welcome. Yes, I wouldn’t advise anyone to read the articles on Thought Catalog. Even when they’re not negative like the article I wrote about, the writing quality just isn’t very good.

  5. Wow, I had no idea that these things were getting posted. I had started reading ThoughtCatalog when I was in university, and some of the articles were relevant/helpful to me back then. Eventually, though, they all melded into one thing and I just lost interest. Glad I did, now that I’ve read this.

  6. Is it wrong that at this point I am finding the most diversity and honesty by just reading the blogs I follow? I’ve intentionally left out major opinion factories because I’m beginning to feel like I’m being spoon-fed some propaganda BS. Really, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I am trying to diversify my sources. Thanks for the great article.

  7. Yes! Thank you for writing this. I’m tired of seeing people post things from Thought Catalog on Facebook and make it seem like that website is the gospel.

    • You’re welcome! I totally agree. I’ve seen how Thought Catalog’s titles are so catchy that they trick people into clicking. I know I’ve clicked on their articles before, only to find that the article’s content is low quality.

  8. I used to read Thought Catalog as well. After being hit by an avalanche of pointless, mindlessly crafted articles; I decided that perhaps ‘Thought Catalog’ could be called ‘Unthought Catalog’, a catalog of articles you wish were never thought of.

    • I love your idea for their more accurate name of “Unthought Catalog”! So much more accurate. 🙂

      I also noticed that the articles just weren’t good quality and all started to sound the same to me.

      Thank you for commenting!

  9. I thought, “This has got to be a joke.” But if it’s questionable on whether it’s satire or not, then obviously it’s not funny! Something so non-clever would normally be considered “trash.”

    I will admit to doodling a few swastikas, but I will also admit that it isn’t art; it’s just unusable exercise of the illustrator’s hand that eventually went in the trash too, and made it clear I have too much time on my hands…

    • I totally agree. The article is just garbage, essentially. I didn’t even realize that she may have meant it to be satire because I just thought it wasn’t funny.

      Thank you for your comment!

  10. If that was the author’s attempt at dry, sarcastic, witty humor, she needs to keep trying. I’m always wary of anyone who says something shocking and then follows it with “just joking”. Adding those to words at the end of a tirade of hatred doesn’t absolve you from the ugly things you just said. I think you made the right move by taking that site off your follow list, Becky.

  11. I fr one must have been sleeping under a rock. Maybe I seen the site but I just can’t remember a single story or I have never seen it.

    And from the bits you posted one can clearly say it isn’t funny. And by all means she is not right, though I must add….
    Now I can clearly can be called a racist when uttering the word nigger and drawing swastika’s the right way (since some make the mistake drawing them reversed).
    And this is just a thought and my opinion. The word nigger and yes I am not shortening it to the N-word since that alone being a hypocrite. A single word used by some is just a word but in my mouth it is called racism. May I ask why? When rappers use it is okay and acceptable, yet if I sing the song I am a racist.
    Weird to see how racism is being used as a shield, that same racism that is being hated. It is confusing me and have me named a racist when I do use black or even coloured and afro-american is wrong to?

    As for the swastika. To even consider only one possibility when you hear that word or see that form, as a form of racism. Not all swastika’s are drawn by racists. To link a single form to only one kind of people is not right either.

    Now I am sure it sound I am advocating the devil in this. But to assume just one option is just as much racism. I do not agree with her, yet I do try to take a step back and look a little further than just a single word or drawing.

    Sorry to rant. But I am not the one to judge them or others. On colour or beliefs. Yet we always seem to do so.

    • Hi, a Ranting Crow! Thanks for your comment. I understand what you’re saying with how the words and symbols are just words and symbols, and that we as a people are the ones who give them meaning.

      For me personally, I think it’s all about intention and context if the words and symbols are used. For example, in the video of the racist chant, all the fraternity members were white, and were chanting something that sounded straight out of the 1860s. During the chant they said no “n-words” would join their fraternity. And I believe there was also stuff about killing “n-words” as well.

      That is racism. That is an example of something hateful and spiteful, not for “artistic” purposes. It was some strange fraternity ritual in which they were solidifying their belief that their silly fraternity should stay all-white.

      I think that it’s all about the context and intention behind the actions. If the words and symbols were used often and in hateful ways, then that would be concerning.

      Thank you for your thoughts!

      • Intention and context. Those are the right words indeed. But fair and honest enough we quickly resort to one sided thinking. We are a silly bunch when creating meaning to a word as it means one thing on one side and another on the other. We confuse ourselves and with that categorize ourselves with labels therefore we might even be guilty of creating diversity and racism.

        I agree that with the example, as being pure racism. From an old age. That is something that we might need to change.That old way of thinking. Surely it is not of this time and age. I do say might, as we can try but never eradicate some extreme thinkers and beliefs who will always have followers. That at the same time is also the sad part about it.

        And I do not mind killing Notorious racists. Does that make me a bad person again.

        I thank you for a great post and well thought out thoughts.

        Let us end with the following. We are all HUMAN! It can’t be more simple than that.

  12. Im a reader and they have articles/posts that can make you want to either slap the author or roll your eyes. While some posts are also nice. Sometimes they lure you to a good topic and when you read it, totally not worth your time because it didnt live up to the title’s promise. Im

  13. (Sorry i hit enter)


    This is one of those articles. Maybe they do it on purpose, they make it controversial because hey, good or bad publicity is still publicity. Right?

    • I was the same way when I read Thought Catalog. It seemed like lately most of the articles were ones that made me roll my eyes. It feels as if the better articles used to be more published than the bad ones.

      I am also wondering if they’re publishing these controversial articles just for the attention. In the past when they published racist and homophobic articles a lot of readers got mad, and it caused a lot of negative attention for them. I guess they still don’t mind getting bad publicity!

  14. Haha. I’m as right-wing as you can get and with a keen interest in World War 2, but I can honestly say that I’ve never sat there absentmindedly doodling swastikas or made up racist rhymes in my head. I’ve never been to Thought Catalogue in my life, but thanks for the glimpse.

    • You’re welcome! Yes, I definitely don’t think that most right-wingers would be doodling swastikas. I guess the author may have written the piece as satire, but I didn’t think it was funny.

      Good thing you haven’t read Thought Catalog! Don’t worry–you’re not missing much. Thanks for the comment!

  15. It’s been so long since I removed them from my “follow” list that I don’t even remember why. (I would have remembered something like what you mentioned, absolutely!) Good to know my instincts are still pretty savvy, despite a recent lapse of judgment LOL.

    • Yes, it sure sounds like you have good instincts! I noticed that lately, Thought Catalog was clogging up my newsfeed with silly articles, and so that was one of the reasons why I unfollowed them. But when I read the article I wrote this post about, I know I wouldn’t be reading Thought Catalog at all anymore.

  16. Saw you tweeted this and immediately read it because the title caught my eye. I love Thought Catolgue! Then I read your article and was informed about some things I wasn’t aware of…this is why I love your blog, you bring light to issues that I didn’t know about and get me thinking.

    • Thank you! Yes, I used to read Thought Catalog sometimes, and when I saw this article, among others that were similar, I knew I wasn’t too pleased with the website. I heard that the author may have been trying to write satire, but it wasn’t a good attempt at it.

      Thanks again for commenting. You rock! 🙂

  17. Pingback: Lily Allen: Humor Done Right | Humyn

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  19. Have you seen It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia? Everything she has to say sounds like it’s taken directly from that show haha. I love the show – it’s great at poking fun at stereotypes and entitled behaviours. I’m wondering if she was going for that kind of humour and it just came across as smugness without the body language and absurdity of hearing someone actually say it.

    Well written article, though. Keep it up!

    • I’ve seen an episode or two. I should watch that show more. It was pretty funny. I wonder if maybe that’s what she was going for? In written form, it was just an epic fail. Thank you, glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

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