Guys, what are we doing? What is it in our nature that compels us to click on stupid headlines? We already know that whatever that content is, it’s not “earth-shattering”, it won’t “blow our minds” and it probably won’t even “melt our hearts”. It’s very unlikely anything we can read from these aggregates will make us hate humanity, we probably will actually be able to believe it, and you know, the danger probably isn’t really in our own home. So, why do we click? Why are we allowing click bait to be a thing? For this, I have no answer. Onto the headlines:
10: “This Weirdly Realistic Human Typeface Will Leave You Traumatized” (source: Huffington Post)
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that for the majority of people, no typeface will leave them traumatized. Why is an adverb thrown in there, seemingly arbitrarily? (My guess is the headline flows better. Plus, now we know it’s not only traumatizing, it’s also weird). What even is a human typeface? That’s a legitimate question, but does it combat the fact that you couldn’t care less about a typeface that you’ll never see, never use, and is no technically better than a bit of high-tech clip-art? It doesn’t. But in case it does, better click. (Spoiler: It’s typeface colored like white human skin with eyeballs on it. Looks a bit like muppets. Not traumatizing.)
9: “Another Monster Mother, But, Hey, She Means Well” (source: NPR)
This is actually an interesting review on a movie, and I’m glad I read it. But I only clicked on it because I’m looking for stupid headlines, and seeing one from NPR surprised me. From this hed, we can’t see that it’s a review, that it’s for a movie, or basically anything about this story. What constitutes a “monster mother?” What constitutes a mother “meaning well?” Have any children been harmed? Is this real life? (That’s actually not a question because the reader assumes the headline references something (though what, exactly, we don’t know) that happened in real life.
8: “Graduation Surprise Video Saves Biggest News for Last” (source: Huffington Post)
Guys, you guys. This couple graduated college and are also expecting. And they made a corny video about it. No one else has ever done this. Ever.
7: “WestJet Christmas Surprise Will Make You Believe in Santa” (source: Mashable)
This is a great example because the story went wide, with many, many informative headlines like “Airline Asks Passengers What They Want for Christmas, Delivers Gifts at Baggage Claim”, “WestJet Finds Out What Passengers Want For Christmas, Leaves Presents At Baggage Claim (VIDEO)”. The difference? The first headline got 1.59 million shares on Facebook. The other two got 10,000 and 95,000 respectively. (While I’m just a blogger and can’t really control for popularity of website, I tried to choose stories that ran on the same day, by publications with roughly the same number of subscribers).
And even I find the first headline the most compelling. I’m not saying we shouldn’t (well, sometimes, but not in this case), but I am wondering why a headline that is basically a teaser (again, in this case, unlike the typeface one, a good teaser), that tells us virtually nothing about the story, and makes assumptions about us as readers do so well. We spend so much of our internet breath telling marketers and other people that they don’t even know our lives and shouldn’t try to tell us about ourselves, and yet, when a headline does it, we’re like, HUH?! SOMETHING COULD MAKE ME BELIEVE IN SANTA? (And we know it can’t). WHAT COULD BE THAT COMPELLING TO ME? THANK YOU FOR TELLING ME WHAT I AM COMPELLED BY.
I’m just saying, I don’t get it, is all.
6: Blah blah blah Blow Your Mind (source: Everywhere.)
– 65 Amazing Facts That Will Blow your Mind (source: MentalFloss). Not only will they blow your mind, they’re also amazing. And they’re facts! About what? Are they related? We don’t know. Better click.
– 10 Optical Illusions That Will Blow Your Mind (source: Huffington Post). Spoiler: They don’t.
– Facts about Walmart to Blow Your Mind (source: Business Insider). This seems fairly legit, to be honest. I bet they could have headlined this with intelligent and people still would have clicked.
6b: blah blah blah mindblowing blah (source: Everywhere)
– 11 Mindblowing Facts That Will Completely Change Your Perspective on the World (source: Huffington Post). OMG, STOP.
– 29 Mind-blowing Coincidences You Won’t Believe Happened (source: Cracked). Well, that’s repetitive, isn’t it? And chances are your mind will not be blown and you actually will believe these things happened, since someone is going to tell you they did, then back that shit up with citation.
– 9 Out of 10 Americans Are Completely Wrong about This Mind-blowing Fact (source: Upworthy). You know, I didn’t know there were degrees of wrong, really. But okay, completely wrong. And not only will the fact blow your mind (whatever genre of “fact” it is), but also, EVERYONE ELSE IS WRONG ABOUT IT. Click quick! Then you can be smarter than 9 out of 10 people.
You know, I was going to do ten of these, but my eyes are already crossed. I’ll do the next five in a follow-up post. Good day to you, internet clickers. I said GOOD DAY.