Medium. Ever Heard of It?
By blending your personalized interests with featherweight edification, scrolling Medium feels like time well spent.
By Nicole Yang, Amherst College
Back during the nightmarish period of my life when I checked Facebook an absurd number of times per day, I remember being inundated with a feed of meaningless content.
A girl who I went to summer camp with seven years ago posted a gym selfie along with an announcement that she’s exhausted from her intense, early-morning HIIT workout. Scroll.
A former high school classmate informed all 1,000 of his “friends” that he’s graduating college with a 4.0 GPA. Scroll.
My best friend’s ex-boyfriend professed his overwhelming love for his current girlfriend with a heartfelt (gag reflex-activating) poem. Scroll.
Without fail, my newsfeed seemed to exclusively consist of information I did not care about. Humble brags, political tirades, copious amounts of dispensable photos—the list of said info was never ending. Yet I consumed it all. Every irrelevant status update I read, every “S 2 U 0 M 1 M E 5 R” album I clicked through and every Facebook-official relationship I monitored.
The question is why?
Was I learning anything particularly intriguing from my FB friends? Not really. Was the social network improving my quality of life? Not really. In fact, it was probably having the opposite effect. Did I feel more in tune with society? Or even with my friends? Again, not really.
I ultimately decided to delete my Facebook account, for it was adding minimal benefits to my life. At best, I gleaned a little water-cooler gossip. At worst, I left the site feeling flat-out irritated for some reason or another. Rarely, if ever, did I believe those countless minutes of scrolling were worth my time.
Life sans FB—approximately five months and counting—has undoubtedly been more fruitful, as I’ve eliminated a major time (and thought) waster. That’s not to say that I don’t kick off each and every morning by checking other social media platforms, namely Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Although I have no interest in reactivating my Facebook, sometimes three social media platforms just aren’t enough to satisfy my hankerings for mindless activity.
I needed another one. I needed to find a worthwhile way to fill the void. I needed one more online method to consume and connect.
Established in 2012, Medium is the brainchild of Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. It’s a stage for anybody to share his or her thoughts about anything. Simple enough, right? The catch is that the text is in long form. That’s right, Buzzfeed, it is possible to produce engaging content that isn’t in the form of a listicle!
While you may already be turned off at the mere thought of reading something that is longer than 140 characters, I say give this up-and-coming blogging platform a chance.
After all, open-minded thinking is at the site’s core. Posts on Medium are meant to be thought provoking. Their purpose is to not simply disseminate information but to spark conversations about it. They’re intended to challenge your perspective but not in an attacking, aggressive manner. Posts on Medium are meant to make you, well, smarter.
The topics covered range from life lessons (e.g. “Do You Take Yourself Seriously?”) to satire (e.g. “Pantone Color Names v. What They Actually Look Like”) to health (e.g. “How to Train Your Human: Designing for Healthier Habits”). And if none of those headlines pique your interest, there’s plenty more.
Jay Carney, Senior Vice President for Global Corporate Affairs at Amazon, turned to Medium to publish a fiery response to the New York Times’ scathing article that bashed the company’s culture; Esquire created a tasteful series, titled “What I’ve Learned,” featuring advice from a diverse selection of celebrities; and Marriott launched a pop-up travel collection, transporting readers around the world through powerful photographs and first-hand accounts.
Like other social media spaces, the authors range from average people to brands and publications to celebrities; however, the text almost always looks the same, regardless of who’s behind it.
The majority of Medium articles use the same classic aesthetic: black text against a white background. You can certainly add media, yet the focus remains on the words. By not allowing users to mess around with superfluous design options, Medium places emphasis on the feature that should always be of utmost importance: the writing.
In order to be successful on Medium, you can’t rely on a flashy interface to attract viewers, but rather, your writing has to resonate with your audience. Stylistically, the tone of most articles is lighthearted and conversational; nevertheless, the key is to share your thoughts in a way that is compelling and relatable.
You might think it’s intuitive to produce pieces that are as engaging as possible, but it’s absolutely critical on Medium. Why?
Medium’s content is organized by a popularity algorithm, meaning that posts on your homepage are not ordered chronologically.
Instead, the articles that receive the most reads and tout the highest recommend-read ratio are displayed at the top. This structure ensures that the stories you see first, right upon log-in, are ones you’ll presumably want to click on. You don’t have to take the time to go searching for them on your own.
While you may not always agree with what you read, you will be exposed to unique viewpoints—a situation that I believe our society needs to become more comfortable with.
I never remember coming away from Facebook with a changed perspective. Despite the fact that many folks exploited the site as a public soapbox for their thoughts, Facebook posts never seemed to have an impact on me. I’m not sure what that says about me or FB, but either way, Mark Zuckerberg’s treasured social network just wasn’t cutting it.
I’m not suggesting that Medium will be life changing; however, at the very least, it will encourage you to think—something everybody should do more often.
And if you peruse the site and conclude that it’s not for you, so be it.
As founder Evan Williams likes to say, “Medium is not for everybody, but it’s open to everybody.”