When we miss tween magazine quizzes predicting our dream summer date, we go running to BuzzFeed — but is it enough?
A few weekends ago, my friends and I made a pit stop in Walgreens before taking the CalTrain back to campus, and I experienced a heartbreak unlike any other. Upon walking to the magazine (and disturbingly obscure romance novel) section, I could not find a SINGLE tween magazine. That’s right — no Tiger Beat, no Teen Ink, only a vast emptiness of cringeworthy yet somehow heartwarming material. I tried to amuse myself by painting my pinky nails with random Essie pastels, but to no avail. Maybe it was just that location, or maybe tween magazines have gone down in stock everywhere, but I officially had beef with Walgreens.
I’ve spent countless evenings after school with friends at pharmacies and grocery stores, armed with our best mechanical pencils and prepared to flip through magazines until our fingers ached just to find that One. Celebrity. Boyfriend. Prediction. Quiz. Honestly, we probably had low standards for fun, but I remember thinking that nothing could match this rapture. I suppose my current obsession with personality tests has mimicked this, but not to the full extent. We would circle the yes or no bubbles, follow the maps to our answers, erase and then trade. It was a secret club.
I suppose the mourning of tween magazines is likely more metonymic for the nostalgia of childhood whim, but part of me does just really miss brainless quiz-taking. In reality, my own choices led me to the answers I arrived at, but it always felt like some oracle behind the page was unraveling my secrets and giving them back to me with a tinge of profundity. These quizzes made me feel known, capable and, above all, special. Though most ended with one of three choices, meaning around 2.5 billion people would be given the same exact prophecy as me, I felt like the only one in the world. I would meet my summer love at a carnival, and I absolutely would be a damn good lawyer.
After the Walgreens incident, I decided to test whether an afternoon with BuzzFeed could satisfy my cravings. I was pessimistic, but pleasantly surprised.
Though I didn’t have the same faith in their predictions, which was probably a positive sign of some fostered self-possession, I still felt special. I clicked with euphoria, forgetting where I was, and experienced a beautiful elation at receiving predictions, character-assignments and even suggestions for my future (probably confounded with anxiety over having no clue what I’m doing with my life).
It wasn’t exactly the same as my rendezvous with my elementary school pack, but it did submerge me in the same contentment, and to my roommate’s exhilaration, inspired me to play some bops from “High School Musical” and “Starstruck” (a truly underrated masterpiece). I felt connected to a sector of myself I should truly entertain more often — the ridiculous, the animated, the overly enthusiastic version of myself that remains from my childhood of spontaneity and adventure.
Yes, BuzzFeed is a time-sucker, and Lord knows I don’t need another thing keeping me from writing my papers, but I believe that the time can be well spent.
Contact Malia Mendez at mjm2000 ‘at’ stanford.edu.