Sunday, December 29, 2013

You Won't Believe What Matt Stache Said About Click Baiting Headlines

Something I had set about to do with both my blog and my band's social media presence was to be more socially conscious and speak out on issues that I believe in.  The band is currently on hiatus, and while I make plans to reform the band and potentially pursue other musical projects, I surmise that it is about time that I attack that aforementioned goal.

In my eyes, a great problem with the world is people who live a formulaic and unexamined life.  For instance, I've edited the first paragraph three times just because I felt like some of the phrase I used were cliches.  I'm even somewhat unsure of using the phrase "unexamined life," and "for instance."

This scourge is no more evident than in the rampant use of "click baiting" headlines.  "Click baiting" is wording a headline in such a way that the reader must click the link before actually knowing whether or not the content and topic of the article is worth reading.  Often, the headline itself is completely misleading, sounding much like a prime time spot for the late night news -- stay tuned for the rest of the story at 11:00.  Such headlines often contain phrases like "At first I thought... but now..." and "You'll never believe what..."  These headlines lure the reader in, often with content that isn't worthy of such a melodramatic headline. I can confidently say that such activity truly is "viral" in all senses of the word.

To compound matters, most people who share these articles via social media barely editorialize the link when posting -- adding only such things as "So true" or "OMG."  I recall a month ago seeing an NPR article posted multiple times regarding something on a dam; it wasn't until three weeks passed that finally someone shared the link with the helpful explanation that it was mountain goats on the dam.

One of the greatest offenders in these scheme is  By Googling the phrase "I hate click baiting," I found an article that I thought was going to be critical of Upworthy's tactics.  However, the author spends most of the article praising Upworthy's socially conscious position (a bias with which I proudly side), and explains away their success by the value of their content.  The dismisses the dismal tactic of click baiting with an "aww shucks," attitude toward this practice.

I'm no journalist, and I'm sure I'm only a mediocre blogger, but click baiting strikes me as poor form and sensationalistic journalism.  I urge my readers to not click on click baiting headlines, not share click baiting headlines, and offer critique and spoilers on such headlines shared by their friends.