Cracked.com, much like its namesake, is a highly addictive substance. Though I love the site dearly, and enjoy reading just about everything they produce, I find it necessary to remove it from my bookmarks list if I ever want to get some work done ever again in my life.
Part of their power comes from the site's format: lots of links, articles on intriguing subjects, titles that pique the reader's interest, and a complete and utter lack of pretentiousness. But I think the biggest factors accounting for the site's popularity and effectiveness at spreading information are: 1)the content of the articles themselves, and 2) the irrepressible sense of amazement and wonder that the writers bring to the table.
Every article that graces the "pages" of this digital humor publication is practically bubbling over with enthusiasm. Reading their material, one almost can't help but get excited about... umm... well, whatever the article that you're reading happens to be about! They just make it so much fun to learn about the world!
Wait, did I just use the words "fun" and "learning" in the same sentence? Yes, that's right: Cracked.com doesn't just make it fun to learn about the world as it was, is, and yet might be; it actually makes you want to learn more!!!
If you're like most people (particularly Americans), you probably thought that History was one of the most boring classes you were ever forced to take. It consisted mainly of watching a mustachioed, middle-aged man in a geeky sweater drone on for 45 minutes about stuff that happened way before you were born, when people were stupid and dressed all funny and didn't shower.
But imagine if, instead of starting off the semester with a coma-inducing PowerPoint presentation, your History teacher walked into the room on the first morning of class and announced that you were going to start with a discussion of the The 6 Most Insane Underdog Stories in the History of Battle? Or a lesson about great modern inventions that have their roots in unbelievably gruesome tragedy? Don't you think you and your classmates might have leaned forward a little in your seats? Just a bit?
All of Cracked.com has that effect on people.
Detractors complain about its poor academic standards, its haphazard research, and its noted tendency to exaggerate the "awesome factor" in its stories. And you know what? I don't give a rat's ass. Anything, anything at all, that can convince a kid to go online and willingly read something about the past is, by definition, a good thing!
Even in America (allegedly the "greatest country on Earth"), there are a truly horrifying number of people who graduate high school without even so much as a basic grasp of historical perspective. So what if what they're reading is more fluff than substance? At least it gets them off their asses (so to speak) and makes them hunger for more. It forces people to appreciate just how weird, wild, cool, mixed-up, crazy and friggin' unbelievable the world is.
Cracked.com is not content to sit by and say "You should know more about history," or "This is important, kids!" It physically reaches out of your screen, slaps you across the face, and shouts "PAY ATTENTION! THE WORLD IS AN AMAZING PLACE!"
People need to be forced to confront the world they live in. In a democratic system (which I believe the planet is heading towards, albeit slowly), the people generally get what they deserve, in terms of their government. An uninformed populace, one which cannot recognize the repeating patterns of history, will condemn itself to being governed by those who, like so many before them, do not have the best interests of the people at heart.