But once the Quiz was released, like an invasive species, it stayed and spread, adapting to its environment. Cosmo learned its secret: Drop the pretense and just let the Quiz be what it is—the first feature you turn to in a magazine, the thing you click on when you should be working, the little fiction that makes us feel good about ourselves. Any coverage of BuzzFeed’s success was going to be vacuous: Whenever we try to take these quizzes seriously, we’re fooling ourselves. Sometimes the illusion of truth is all any of us want.

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Sarah Laskow is a writer and editor in New York City. Her work has appeared in print and online in Grist, Good, The American Prospect, Salon, The New Republic, and other publications.