22 April 2016

Clickbait!

It's been quite a reflective week for me. And one where I've come to a couple of quite disturbing conclusions.

And it all started when I began to take a closer look at other people's blog posts and Facebook accounts, in order to review them for what we now call clickbait.

It's an internet term which is defined (Oxford University Press) as: content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page.

Now, the idea is to drive traffic to your website, blog or even your Facebook wall by saying something deliberately outrageous or controversial.

The writer wants your reactions, because he wants you to click on their link or go to their site to read more; he wants you to make more and more comments. This all feeds into the stats to their site.

The problem comes with the fact that it's a form of manipulation. You're being played, enticed to learn more in a way that benefits the site owner. Any means is fair game, just as long as it works. Benefits may even be financial... some website owners get quite good money from advertising revenue from their website (I don't. I dislike advertising so don't want it on my blog).

However, I've discovered that it doesn't end there.

You can apply that same sort of thinking to other aspects of life.

In the past, I used to listen to a lot of talk radio, until I got so fed up of all the negativity that I used to hear. But now, I realise that many talk-show hosts are doing the self-same thing. Stirring up controversy just to build up listenership... 'clickbait' on the radio...

And I suppose that you see it on the front pages of the popular press, where controversial headlines are placed on the front page to increase readership. It's what they used to call 'yellow journalism', where a good headline will always take precedence over legitimate or well-researched news... or even the truth.  Anything just to sell papers. (sigh)

And today was the saddest realisation of all.

I realised that one of my colleagues was doing the exact same thing to me. Deliberately saying outrageous and offensive things to try and goad a reaction from me.

He didn't. However, it all came out tonight in a massive ball of rage, which I'm trying to channel into this blog post to get it out of my system before I go to bed tonight.

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