Comedy · Technology

How to Avoid Clickbait

Well, first of all, don’t click on articles like this.

That is, of course, impossible. Clickbait is everywhere—on blogs, on respected news sites, on your friends’ Facebook feeds. Once the territory of newspaper headlines, it’s now the stuff of everyday life, and thousands of people spend their lives dreaming of that perfect clickbait headline.

“She puts the carrots in the dish drainer—and you won’t believe why!”

Bet I will.

This is the age of attention, which is a nice way of saying this is the age of people realizing they need to diversify their incomes or risk being homeless the next time a CEO sneezes. They turn to blogs (the fools!) to help them, and those blogs are clicked on by countless bored people who have nothing better to do, seeing as they have a machine to wash the dishes and another to wash the clothes and Roomba is doing the vacuuming. We’re so lazy, it’s sinful!

Pft. Because that’s going to stop us.

Yesterday was one of the crazier days I’ve had. Between writing synopsises of two different books, going over the editing of The Mercy of Men, writing a blurb, doing theater stuff (have I mentioned I do theater stuff?) and my tutoring job, I was running around like the proverbial chicken sans cranium. Relief came only late at night when I lay in bed reading a book I’ve read a thousand times before. Busy busy!

This is, of course, how you avoid clickbait: by not being bored. That is why we click dumb articles about a problem that’s not really a problem. It’s like reading the Hints from Heloise page in the newspaper.

For those of you who don’t have a Hints from Heloise page, it’s marvelous. It’s full of household tips written by the sort of people who actually save their candle ends, melt them down, and dip new candles from them. Or create little cozies to keep their plastic bags in. Or actually time out how long to keep batteries in the refrigerator.

You don’t read Heloise because you want to join in the insanity—you read it out of sheer amazement that anyone is actually that obsessive. And then you read the comics as well, even though most of them aren’t even funny these days, because you’re bored.

Of course, avoiding clickbait by virtue of never having free time is good and well to say, but most of us treasure and value our brain dead hours, and so I have another solution: cynicism.

If the article is a list, don’t click. If it promises a how-to on something you aren’t actively researching, don’t click. If it has a single superlative in it, seriously, don’t click the stupid thing, it’s clickbait. Be that person who rolls their eyes at and then blocks that one acquaintance from high school who won’t stop posting that crap everywhere.

Congrats, you’ve avoided 99% of clickbait.

Of course, you haven’t avoided all of it. Let’s face it, there is no solution to clickbait. We all want to be entertained when we’ve finally collapsed on our sofas at the end of the day, exhausted from another nine hours of rat-race, or these days, possibly mosquito race. We want something to amuse us while employing no brain cells, so we click on junk.

Why, we even click on articles like this one that can literally be summed up in two sentences:

Don’t click on clickbait, it’s evil. You can avoid it by doing anything that doesn’t involve the internet instead.

Because I have done what all clickbait does: amused you for one tiny little moment, like I just did right here. OH, THE POWER.

Now excuse me, I need to go read about cats.

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Let’s face it, you clicked for this photo, didn’t you? DariuszSankowski on Pixabay, in the public domain.

Are you a clickbait clicker, or do you avoid it like the plague? Is there someone in your life who insists on drenching you in the stuff? Do you think it’s just another trend, or is it here to stay? Tell us in the comments below!

You can also say hey on my Facebook page, where I post updates and, of course, links to stuff like giveaways. It’s a great place to keep track of all the super cool stuff I do. Like, uh, cool stuff.

Thanks for reading!

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