“Yet readers are drawn to stories of domestic squabbles and social slights as they always have been, because these topics address something universal about the human experience. But the format that dominates many mainstream publications online, places like Slate, the online New York Times and New York magazine — a personal essay followed by a comments section filled with insults and complaints — undermines the effectiveness of the stories as stories, as thought-provoking glimpses of unvarnished humanity. Stories that require nuance and suspended judgment get neither when told online as personal narratives, as authors seek validation and many readers seek reasons to bash what they’ve just read or to play advice columnist for the author.

Writers who want to get published in prominent online places see what already appears in these publications — or how frequently which of their already published items are “liked” or shared — and rightly conclude that they must place their lives before a comments section and consent to an editorial process that tends to frame these stories in the most controversial way possible.”