Tricking People into Reading Again
Despite its reputation as a kitten video landfill, the Internet has been responsible for more reading than most high schools. Every day of the week, Cracked.com publishes at least one 2,000 – 3,000 word article, most of which are read by over a million people.
The tradition of written humor was in a rough spot before the web. There was National Lampoon in the 70s that acted as a feeder / launching pad for SNL and a bunch of movies, but the magazine was mostly dead by the mid-80s. There was Spy in the 80s. But by the time the 90s rolled around, all you had was lad mags like Maxim and Mad Magazine. If you didn’t live in a big city that carried the Onion, were too ashamed to have a magazine with a half naked reality TV star on your coffee table (Maxim) or were 12 (Mad), you didn’t have a place to read humor. It’s an important art form with a long history all the way back to Swift.
Whether the online audience knows it or not, when they’re goofing off at work reading Cracked, The Onion and McSweeney’s, they’re partaking in one of the oldest, and most important forms of art and social commentary.
Chris Monks is the managing editor of McSweeney's Internet Tendency, the humor website of the San Francisco based independent publisher, McSweeney's. He is also the author of the book "The Ultimate Game Guide to Your Life." He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts with his wife and two sons.