6 Reasons Why Cracked.com will Ruin your Life
By: | 07-04-2013
I absolutely love Cracked.com, and not just because at time of writing someone’s pointing a gun at my head. It’s one of the few examples of ‘edutainment’ that succeeds at being both educational and entertaining. But as a long-time reader, I'm starting to worry about the darker side of internet comedy articles in list form. I know that it seems harmless, like a little, white fluffy mouse; but that’s the thing - just like a mouse, it’s only after you let down your guard that it bites you in the ankle. Then the rabies hits and you’re left frothing at the mouth, as you gibber around on the floor, twitching and wishing you'd listened to me. It may seem slight at first, but you must remain vigilant of Cracked. Because in six quick and easy steps, your life as you know it will be over. Here's how it happens . . .
|#6. People Will Call You: “That Smart-Ass”|
Knowledge is Power, and knowing is half the battle, we all know this from G.I. Joe and other essential eighties cartoons. But knowledge is not just for hunting down Cobra Commander, it’s also useful in social situations.
The concept is simple to understand, the more you know, the more you can say, and there’s no such thing as an awkward silence when you can fill that silence with opinion, information or Back to the Future trivia. So, of course, it makes sense that Cracked.com will help you become a more sociable, charismatic person. If you can tell people all about This, That or Those Things, then you can be the centre of attention as you gleefully fill your friends’ and families’ heads with succulent brain-knowledge.
But there’s a downside to this. For one thing, if you respect intellectual property, then you have to preface all of your information with: “I read this thing on Cracked that says . . .” which tends to make you sound unoriginal.
But even if you don’t care about that kind of thing, there is a downside to knowing a cat-lady’s-attic-full of pop culture trivia. After a while, people will start to hate you. If you are constantly giving people information, even in a non-aggressive way, you’re actually being rude.
Conversation is a balancing act. Everyone has to have a fair say. Even in arguments we understand this. We call it ‘He said, She said’, because even in debate or disagreement, everyone gets a fair say, and a chance to pitch in. But when you know more than other people, they don’t really have the chance to respond. It ceases to be a dialogue, and starts to be a monologue. How did you feel when your dad lectured you about staying out late, or your mom lectured you about leaving the cat alone? Well you're now essentially lecturing others about not having as much information in their heads as you. So your friend, who once considered you equals, now looks at you like some pseudo-intellectual, trying to 'teach' him. In simple terms, you have become the same as a substitute teacher.
In case you think I'm just making this up, why not talk to a man named A.J. Jacobs, who once read the Encyclopedia. As in all of it from A-Ak to Zywiec, and people soon got sick of him. He had a ‘Fun Fact’ for everything in existence, so people got annoyed that he would constantly pour his brain-juice all over a conversation, just because he was smarter than them. Sharing some trivia is fun, it’s like a pinch of salt in your soup, but too much and you’ll start dying of saline toxicity.
|#5. You Will Lose Sleep|
It is going to blow your mind. Whether it's talking about horror stories that are true, teaching you to fear adorable animals or changing your fundamental understanding of things you watched as a kid, you are going to be shocked by what you read in Cracked articles. So you are going to lose sleep. Whether or not this is caused by existential despair or pants-shitting fear, it doesn't matter. What matters is that you are going to lie awake in bed, staring at the ceiling, wishing the world was a little smaller.
But there's a solution to this. After all, why lay awake at night when you play on your computer? But you can't play any computer games, you wouldn't want to wake up your friend's/housemate/family/prostitutes in the basement. So you'll go online. You will tell yourself that you want to watch Youtube, or TV Tropes, but the truth is that you have to go back to Cracked. If not to see the latest updates, it will be to reread that mind-blowing article again. You will be drawn to it. Seek to understand it.
So you'll stay up, reading Cracked.com as the night wears into day. You don't have to stay up too late, perhaps an hour or two. But as little as this may seem, this is the first step. What's happening is that slowly your sleep cycle is shifting further and further back. Even if you don't eventually become nocturnal, you'll find yourself with more hours of an evening when you're not asleep. Your system has become aware of Cracked.com and has shifted to accomodate it. Because those hours exist for you to go online and read more Cracked articles. Your body now expects you to read Cracked articles. This is the first step of addiction.
If you let it get out of hand, this will destroy you from within. With time, your sleeping pattern will shift into the daytime. Your boss will get angry, but who cares? It's just more time you have to read Cracked.
After a few months of this regime, you will become entirely nocturnal. You will lose what little social life you have left, and you'll lose your job (but you didn't notice, since the unemployment letter wasn't written as a list) and you won't care because you can read Cracked all night, and sleep during the day, like some kind of animal. You will cease to be a functional member of society.
Or maybe that was just me.
|#4. The Downward Spiral|
Now, things are starting to look grim. But it's okay, you're fine. If you so choose, you can even be a functional member of society. But whatever you do, don't scroll down. No matter what happens, you can work it out. Get therapy or counselling. But there's no turning back once you go below an article, and write your first comment.
You'll read something, and maybe you'll disagree with something the writer said, or you'll want to add something that you think they missed. It may even be as innocuous as you wanting to let others know that you liked the article.
But once you make your first comment, you're trapped. You're a part of the community. Because once you start writing comments, it's only a matter of time before you start reading comments. It's the only logical conclusion. You can read them, and reply. Then people can respond to your comments. You will start to find a new social life within the comments. Hell, you'll have to! After all everyone you know thinks your an asshole for quoting trivia all the time, smart-ass.
So you'll sustain your social needs with brief utterances that envy, or despise, the content of an article. You will depend on these people. And once you become a part of this community, you will start to learn the language. The in-jokes, the factoids, the writers. Oh yes, you will learn all about the Cracked writing staff: Adam Todd Brown, Daniel O’Brien, Katie Willhert, Robert Brockway and more!
You will learn who you like best, and before long, you will come across one of the most dangerous parts of the website. The Cracked Writing Staff profile pages. By now you’ve picked a favourite. They all have a profile page where you can browse EVERY ARTICLE THEY’VE EVER WRITTEN. When you find this treasure trove, you will binge on the content within. I mean, the comedy just keeps on coming! It will be glorious - but only because you know that it's wrong.
You shouldn't be reading twelve articles in a row, that's too many, surely. You know you should stop, you can't stay up all night . . . but all that is forgotten when you notice another article about zombies, and start reading more and more and more.
|#3. You'll Become Sexually Attracted to Lists|
As much as we enjoy what we're learning, and the comedy makes it more fun, and easier for our minds to digest, I've come to realize that calling this kind of thing learning is a misnomer. Because the truth is that you're not craving the information, your craving the list.
We are consumerists, in a Consumer Culture. We spend money, time and effort on product, and we then devour it. Cracked.com provides us with a free product (or is it a service?) in the form of words. However, when we start consuming this information in bulk, we're falling into a trap. If you read more than two articles in a row, although you are reading more, you are learning less. Just as last-minute study can skew test scores, when you read multiple Cracked articles at a time, the information gets lost in the process. It's the same reason you can only have a small number of good friends. It's a simple idea, called 'retention'. Your brain is not equipped to remember everything you take in, so it will only retain what little it can. The problem with Cracked articles is, as most psychologists will tell you, memories linked with emotion are easier to retain and later recall. So if you're reading seventeen articles about the latest studies and science, your brain is hardwired to only remember the stuff you laughed at (i.e. the dick jokes). If you're reading a lot of articles about old movies and television shows, you're more likely to recall the nostalgic bliss, or stuff that you already knew.
So what is it that keeps us coming back if not the information? Well, drugs.
It's all about Dope, or should I say dopamine. That's the neurochemical associated with rewarding your body for doing good things, like eating food, doing drugs and having sex! And since every time you read a Cracked article to #1 you feel like you've succeeded, your brain rewards you for reading lists, like when you have sex.
(Note to the Editor: So the subheading does make sense, when you think about it.)
Cracked articles are written in list form for that exact purpose. People want to Win. They want to get to the front of the pack, the top of the mountain and the end of the list. Even if it's as simple as reading, we like to know not only that we've accomplished something, and we like external gratification of hearing: You Won! Congratulations!
So not only will you start enjoying Cracked more (while you're not learning as much) but eventually other websites will leave you wanting, and after reading them you'll feel bored and listless. Haha, puns!
|#2. Cracked is a Gateway Website|
With Cracked.com providing you with this new, mind-blowing information you never knew you needed, it's only natural that you'd want to increase the amount of data that you are taking in, even if you won't remember it's name the next day. And it seems like a lot. Cracked has a lot of lists, and fun information. Videos, Infographics, Photoplasty Competitions & Other fun stuff, there's so much of it! But to a cracked addict, that’s barely enough to sustain you for a day. Cracked.com updates daily, but it only adds about four articles a day. This is fine for the casual reader, but for hardcore crackers, you can go through articles at a rate of twelve Cracked articles per session (yes, you'll start calling them 'sessions'). At that rate, even the archives will start running dry. You will run out of Cracked.
But that's the thing . . . even if you don't realize it consciously, subconsciously you know that it's not about the information. So you'll hunt for more. You'll troll the internet, hoping to score that sweet, sweet number '#1'.
You could read news articles, check out TED talks or even play games online. But none of these things can hit that high. Games will seem repetitive; videos will be unengaging & news articles beg for the TL;DR stamp of disapproval. When you see information presented any other way, your brain will start to feel limp and dispassionate. "I have to read the whole thing?" your brain will cry. "There’s no stopping points, no subheadings, not a single dick joke to be seen! What is this madness?"
And that's when you'll hit rock bottom. In your desperate clawing for list-based content, you'll see the links under each column. A clustered grid of ads promising yet more lists! You were never stupid enough to click those advertisement links before, those ‘fake-cracked’ links to other sites with inferior lists. That is, until now.
You’ll have to look up 25 Pictures with Paired with Inane Gossip; 6 Things You didn't know about Exercising to Make you feel Fat & 12 Pictures of Underage Celebrities that You'll Ogle Anyway. You know it’s wrong, but you’ll read them. Because that’s what’s become of you. Without things organized into lists with intermittent comedy, you will suffer and shrivel up into a husk of a human being. Like a toothpaste tube left under a tractor tire. You are not even human anymore.
|#1. The Cycle Continues . . .|
With no friends who will listen to you, your job lost & a brain full of random trivia and pointless gossip, there is only one option for you to continue. As much as you love it, you can't live on Cracked alone. You can live a social life on the site, but it cannot give you food. So, you need money. But what job can you get? Your brain has been reduced to pop culture sludge, and you sleep during the day. All you do is read and write comments with no benefit to society. What can be done with you?
Well, there is only one option.
You will join the Cracked Comedy Workshop.
Just as prostitutes become pimps, or addicts become dealers to fuel their habit, you will be left with no option but to start working for the same monster that made you what you are today. I mean, you've read so many articles, it's now ingrained in your head, and you've become so impatient with the update schedule, you've found ways to hunt down the information yourself.
You will write ideas based off the fetid bile of arguments in the comments section, and even repackage the knowledge from old articles into new ones (the readers won't notice, they've already forgotten what they just read).
Not only will this be your means of income, but also your only chance of release. The spiral has taken you all the way to the bottom, and there's no way back up (at least, not without deep hypnosis & electro-shock therapy), but I don't mean release from the prison, but rather an outlet. A way to blow out your grey-matter brain-guts, in the absence of a shotgun or sufficient MacGyvering initiative; in the form of writing.
Even if you have to presence of mind to rage against the machine, you have no other choice but to drag everyone else down to your level. You've been taken down, and now you must infect more with the sick madness that is reading Cracked articles.
So, if you don't stop reading Cracked.com soon, before you know it you'll become a tumour hidden in the dark corners of the internet, with only death and positive comments to look forward to.
It's the only logical conclusion.
So you shouldn't spend too much time on the internet. It's a horrible place. But don't take my word for it. Just read some Cracked articles that will tell you all about it . . .