Everyone’s an infomercial host

I finally broke down and bought a pair of Birkenstocks after resisting for decades. I’ve only had them a couple days and the left one is rubbing the top of my foot sore. So I googled, how to break them in and found this link.

TL:DR; just wear socks for 5 minutes a day for a week or so. That stretches them out.

I only included the link because it’s a great example of the logorrhea you’ll find whenever you go looking for a recipe, or how-to instructions.

Posts like above are like getting sucked into a 3am Infomercial on real estate. “What to know the secret to…but first…but first…but first let me tell you about…”

I started with a simple ask – how do I fix my Birks from rubbing my foot. I found my answer on that site. But first I was expected to read about…

  • The history of Birkenstocks
  • Why someone would want to break them in
  • How they should fit
  • Are they comfortable
  • What do podiatrists think of them
  • How long does it take to break them in
  • How long do Birks last
  • Where to get them

Eventually I scrolled to the actual part where the author goes through a 9-step process of how to break them in. All told, he must have written 3000 words.

The word content has become the catchall term to describe any and everything people create. I used to hate that word because it was so reductive.

Referring to something someone took the time to write as just “content” seemed so bland and meaningless. But now that most people seem to be producing content in mass quantities, not for people’s enjoyment, but as part of some other goal like ad impressions and click-through, I realize how apt it really is.

Content is just stuff. It’s what you call something when you can’t be bothered with context.

The most egregious content producers on the internet are recipe sites. Want to make Rice Krispie Treats? Melt butter, marshmallows in a pan, pour in 2 cups of cereal. Stir. Put it in pan. Cool. Cut.

If you Google “Rice Krispie Treats Recipe”, you’ll get over a million results. The top one is from Kellogg’s. I’m sure they’ve spent plenty on SEO to get that ranking. Meanwhile countless other people have posted their take on the recipe.

Click through many and you’ll see the same stupid stuff, a lengthy memoir of how they ate the treats in grade school followed by ten tips on how to buy the right butter.

I’d expect Kellogg’s, the company that actually makes Rice Krispies to go off on all kinds of tangents from sentimental to dietetic data. Ironically, they’re the only one that gets straight to the point.

Which I realize now, after producing all this content, I should have done too. Thanks for listening to my TEDTalk.