How to Avoid Clickbait
There is no doubt that they exist. They exist everywhere and people are constantly taking the bait…the clickbait. With social media as popular as ever, everyone wants to get the “big story” out first. However, too many times the stories that are being put out there are false. And, too many times, people fall for those stories.
What happens is, people get lured into clicking on the link. Once they do, they are bitterly disappointed that what they thought they were going to see isn’t actually there. The website wants to attract traffic to its website and people fall for it.
It is important to compare clickbait to a behavioral addiction. We always want to know more. It is similar to someone who sits at a slot machine for hours. Sometimes they win, but most times they lose. And yet, people continue to stay at the machine. Clickbaits work in the same fashion as social media. You constantly check your Twitter account to see if anything was liked or not. When a clickbait comes out, people just can’t help themselves but follow the story further.
Take it even further by thinking of the name clickbait. It reminds people of fun fishing adventures. The problem is, the website is the bait and we are taking the bite. We think we are getting something delicious, but it turns out to be a huge disappointment. We realized we just fell for a trick.
How do we stop taking the bait?
The first step is to look at how the story headline is worded. If you see an extreme exaggeration, there is a good chance it is fake. If the headline makes you really curious, type in similar wording in Google to see if an actual story appears there. If not, don’t take the bait.
Writers that have true stories to share need to calm their title language down. Start making the headlines and titles less ambiguous. People should know exactly what they are about to click on. When trying to lure people in with phrases like “you won’t believe what happened,” or “your mind will be blown”, you are telling them that this is basically a fake story. This is the bait they want you to bite. Journalism as we know it is being destroyed by clickbaits. Journalists know that people are interested in exciting headlines, so they have to play the game. News stations do the same thing. They will tease a big story and not share it until the end. They draw you in, make you watch the whole program, and then unveil the big story that really wasn’t very big anyway.
Too many times the links make you think that the story just happened. Then you click on them and see that the story was from a few days ago. Even days after the story, they were able to generate buzz with their clickbait. When you feel like it’s a juicy, gossip item, scroll past it. It’s not worth your time or your energy.
Since clickbaits are seemingly all over the place these days, it is hard to determine what to actually click on. Look for news stories that get right to the point. Look for titles that are not hyped up and don’t leave you in suspense. Good news journalists should stick to the old style of writing. Tell people what they need to know and they will read on. For us, who love to click around to find the juiciest stories out there, it’s time to stop taking the bait. We are smarter than that.