Starbucks Christmas Cups and Other Fake Buzzfeed Stories

Abstarbucksout a year ago, the world was thrown into chaos when a ridiculous story about coffee cups made the headlines. According to Buzzfeed and websites of similar reputations, some nutty Christians were furious that Starbucks decided to change its annual Christmas cups into secular “holiday” cups with an ugly red gradient. IT’S A WAR ON CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

I had no idea that people cared so much about cups. I never heard about anybody looking forward to Starbucks’ annual Christmas tradition. Probably because they fucking didn’t. You see, this story was cobbled together by digging hard to find the tiny handful of angry tweets that existed and blowing them up into seeming like there was a big movement going on. There was literally one or two accounts that were used as a basis for this story in the beginning, one of which had an egg avatar. Completely inconsequential.

However, for sites like Buzzfeed, the truth doesn’t matter. What matters is manufacturing enough controversy to get people to click and share. These writers make all of their money from ad revenue, so it’s in their best interest to write the stories that will best generate engagement, even if they have little justification.

Sure enough, the Starbucks Christmas Cup story reared its head once again in 2016. This time, the problem is with green cups. Buzzfeed News now had a few more tweets to choose from. Hilariously, the top tweet that they chose to showcase was one from a Twitter user by the name of @JazzHandd that was actually sarcastically poking fun at last year’s fracas. Hopefully, she manages to stave off the inevitable harassment campaign from people who are too invested in being outraged to see that they are being conned.

Another example of this is the #BoycottStarWarsVII “movement.” I placed the word “movement” in quotation marks because once again, this hash tag can be credited to a tiny handful of cherry-picked tweets that most likely came from troll accounts. Of course, the clickbait junk peddlers ran with the story because racist drama is big money nowadays.

There was also the case of white Twitter “exploding” over Bomani Jones’ Caucasians jersey, a cute stab at the controversy over the Cleveland Indians’ logo. It’s a pretty interesting story on its own, but to really bring in the clicks, hack writers had to use Twitter accounts with 15 followers to invent an angle about white outrage.

Writers for Buzzfeed and its ilk need to be held accountable for constantly inventing something out of nothing. They are actively profiting from making the world a worse, more hateful place.


PS: If this topic interests you, you might like Trust Me I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday.


The Ken Bone Witch Hunt


We build them up just to knock them back down. It seems like every week, there’s a new person thrust into the spotlight that quickly becomes the target of a media witch hunt as it’s discovered that they are in fact not perfect. By not perfect, of course, I mean that they don’t hold the exact same opinions with the exact same intensity as people in the media.

This week’s target: Ken Bone. Ken Bone was a jolly-looking undecided voter in a red sweater. As a worker in the energy industry, he used the debate’s town hall format to ask a question about how the candidates’ energy policies would affect jobs. However, it wasn’t his question that people remembered. There was just something about him that drew the world in. He quickly became the subject of a number of Twitter memes, and many outlets were declaring him “the real winner” of the second presidential debate. Ken Bone was surprised by his sudden fame, but embraced it, leading to t-shirts, media appearances and a reddit AMA that would be his undoing.

The AMA itself went swimmingly. Ken revealed himself to be a fun, reasonable, quick-witted guy. However, in an unusual move, Ken Bone decided to use his actual reddit account for the AMA session. The obsessive nature of the reddit userbase led to many people digging through his lengthy posting history. People learned tidbits about his medical history, porn tastes, and his even-handed, centrist approach to just about every issue. However, for some, if you don’t take a side -their side- you are a monster.

In particular, it was his comments about Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photo leak and the death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman that many took issue with, and caused articles such as The New York Post’s “Ken Bone is Actually Kind of an Awful Guy” to be published.

Let’s start with his comments on Jennifer Lawrence’s nudes that were leaked during “The Fappening.” Note that StanGibson18 is Ken Bone’s reddit username.


Somebody please point out the thing he said that was in any way wrong or offensive. The analogy he uses is quite apt. Misplacing his wallet, in the way that Jennifer Lawrence misplaced her nudes by having them on Apple’s extremely vulnerable iCloud service, isn’t permission to have someone steal them, but it’s definitely more likely to happen. Bad people are out there, and you shouldn’t avoid taking steps to protect yourself from them simply because you feel that bad people shouldn’t exist.

And yeah, attractive people’s buttholes are nice to look at. Deal with it.

Although most reasonable people didn’t seem to be as offended by the Jennifer Lawrence comment as the media would like us think, his comments on Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman were much more controversial.



His wording of his comment made it very easy to reduce it down to “Ken Bone thinks Trayvon Martin’s killing was justified” for the purpose of clickbait articles. However, like with most sensationalist reporting, that version of it loses some important nuance, especially after Bone confirmed that he meant that it was justified in the eyes of the law. Essentially, he became the subject of a racism witch hunt for stating facts and editorializing that Zimmerman is in fact an asshole.

This media-driven witch hunt immediately made me think of a book I recently finished reading, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. In the book, Ronson looks at prominent cases of Internet shaming such as the case of Justine Sacco, who was burned at the stake for her “racist” tweet that to anybody with the slightest ability to comprehend sarcasm, was an obvious criticism of racism and white privilege. Perhaps it was foolish for Sacco to make such a tweet, just as it might have been foolish for Bone to do his AMA with his actual reddit account. However, people aren’t perfect, and a foolish move shouldn’t mean that a person’s life is ruined by an Internet lynch mob. We have come to hold regular people on the Internet to impossibly high standards, when in reality, it is the media that should be holding to a higher standard.


Read So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

Leave Ken Bone Alone! From Meme to Monster – Whang!