Why I want my articles removed from Thought Catalog

When I started writing for the site, I loved its confessional intimacy. But now I don't recognize what it's become

Topics: thought catalog, Bigotry, Ferguson,

Why I want my articles removed from Thought Catalog (Credit: thoughtcatalog.com/Screen montage by Salon)

Thought Catalog recently ran one of the most vitriolic, disgusting, transphobic rants I’d ever read in a mainstream outlet. I won’t be linking to it (they win if you link to them). Salon already picked apart the inane, horrible things the author had to say, so I won’t recount those things either. But it gets worse than that piece. After Thought Catalog broadcast the aforementioned bit of bigotry, it promoted an overtly racist article likening the riots in Ferguson to a rap video.

For a while, Thought Catalog’s mantra of “all thinking is relevant” seemed revolutionary to me; its articles were intimate and diary-esque in a way that I found irresistible. But this creed has become a justification for publishing any and all content, regardless of quality. And that’s why I refuse to have my writing on the site anymore.

In July, Thought Catalog co-publisher Alex Magnin told the New York Times his website was predicated on “certain identities or badges that people want to share with their friends to self-represent.” He also said Thought Catalog was “absolutely, a page-view driven site” though he added they didn’t necessarily want to be.

I started reading Thought Catalog in 2012. I hadn’t heard of it until a BuzzFeed content regurgitator I followed on Twitter at the time tweeted “Thought Catalog is the WORST” or something along those lines. I looked up the site and enjoyed it. I thought the BuzzFeed person was just upset Thought Catalog could make lists go viral without spending time ripping pictures from Reddit.

Thought Catalog had some amazing writers on staff when I first discovered it: Gabby Dunn,  Steph Georgopulos, Chelsea Fagan (who still works there but not as a writer) and others. I liked Thought Catalog so much I started writing for it.

In 2013, I wrote the following:

The reason why Thought Catalog gets hate and the reason why it’s successful are one in the same: It is not encumbered by orotundity and ideological baggage. It’s not a liberal website. It’s not a conservative website. It’s not a traditional journalism site. It’s not a list-heavy clickbait site. It does not cater specifically to plebeians or specifically to elites. It does not fit into a mold.



Those things aren’t true anymore. Thought Catalog still presents itself as an avant garde marketplace for ideas. However, in reality, I’ve come to think of it as an amalgam of the irredeemable parts of BuzzFeed, Upworthy, Reddit and the rest of the viral Web.

I know the rise of Facebook sharing has forced many websites to resort to crappy viral content in order to make money. But the gleeful posting of blatant hate-speech is something else entirely.

And so this morning I asked the site to take down all my 100+ articles. At the time of writing, they have yet to answer and my articles are still there.

Please note I’m not trying to slander all the writers there. This is a disappointing outcome for me. Thought Catalog was the first website to publish my non-sports writing. At the risk of sounding lame, I felt like a real writer the first time I got published on Thought Catalog. And the site still has some incredible writers now, both on staff and contributing as freelancers. I follow quite a few on Twitter. But even more unforgivable than making good writers write bad things (why would you make good writers copypasta from Reddit?) is intentionally letting bad writers write bad things.

I don’t want to bring page views to the site that lets bigots post demeaning, awful things. Most important, don’t share things you hate. My hope is that if we ignore Thought Catalog’s current incarnation, it’ll change rather than go away. It’ll go back to being the site Tao Lin wrote for. It’ll go back to being the site I read on lonely Friday nights. It’ll go back to being the site I loved.

Thanks for publishing me, Thought Catalog. It meant so much to me back then. And thanks to the writers and editors at Thought Catalog who continue to try to right the ship.

Matt Saccaro is a writer whose work has appeared on Salon, The Week, and The Daily Dot. Follow him @mattsaccaro

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...