Clickbait is Killing the Internet

theattentionmerchants_coverDid that headline get your attention?
Did you click a link to get here? Why? What did you expect to see? Okay, sorry, that title was “clickbait”. I want you to read my blog. I want you to stop whatever you were doing and visit the TechWite site, so I created a sensational title. That was my motivation. What was yours? It’s worth thinking about…


ClickbaitDo we really need to define this? It is what it sounds like: A title, heading, or image designed to DISTRACT the web user from whatever s/he is doing, click a link, and “go” somewhere else.


Clickbait is often about advertising, the end result to get you to BUY something. But it’s also about EYEBALLS, to get you to look at an ad, push up the “readership” of a page, a video, or person, or site. It’s not just in Facebook and gawdawful “news” web sites like nj.com. It’s on LinkedIN.

HINT: If an article has “Steve Jobs” in the title, especially if it’s about “Tim Cook is NOT Steve Jobs” it’s clickbait. If it’s about Apple or some other company being doomed or “beleaguered” it’s clickbait.

Dishonest clickbait is infuriating.
Let’s say just because it sounds interesting, you click on one of those links, “The Five Worst Plastic Surgeries of Playboy Bunnies”. That GRABS your attention. But gosh, now you’re on a page with an article about lawnmowers! Where are the bunnies? Nope, not even the kind with long ears. You’ve been had. And somewhere, somebody gets to claim your click and say their link got you to look at a web page. This is getting so bad that on YouTube you’ll click on a link for one thing, and end up watching a video for something completely different. And before you know it, minutes, maybe hours, have gone by. Where? Can you remember what you watched? Do you know what a “black out” is? I’m inventing a new term today: “the CBO“- Clickbait Black Out. If you’ve experienced this, it’s time to take a look at your digital life.

Think before you click!
Internet people, TechWite—newly committed to spending less time in a browser—is not going to write a long essay about this. Not today. But TechWite will offer you some sage advice: Think before you click. It could save your life, a few minutes at a time. Think before you click. Take a couple of seconds before you take the bait. TRY to remember WHAT you were planning to do today. Be aware. Right here. Right now. And may you go for a walk, outside, in nature.

—TW

Want to know more? These links open in new windows, think before you click!!:

Partly covered as a topic in this book by Tim Wu, “The Attention Merchants“.

Or read or listen about it here:  How Free Web Content Traps People In An Abyss Of Ads And Clickbait : All Tech Considered : NPR

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