Opinion

Clickbait suckered me in…

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Scrolling through Facebook the other day, I noticed a friend had shared a quiz entitled: “Only people with IQ range 140-149 know the meaning of these 17 words.” And yes, like a schmuck, I clicked. Like a fish lured by the sight of a fat, juicy lugworm, I bit.

Needless to say, the quiz was childishly simple and I aced it. However, my smug satisfaction at proving my erudition lasted for about as long as a snowball survives in a blast furnace. I’d fallen for the old clickbait ploy. They had coaxed me in with flattery, with the chance to stroke and massage my frail ego and now they had me. As they used to say in the old-time detective stories: “They’d played me for a sap!”

Of course the quiz was simple! Of course I could kid myself that I could prove my genius with a few easy questions that wouldn’t make the grade in the Reader’s Digest’s “It Pays to Improve Your Word Power” column. Now they had me. They’d bombarded me with advertisements and the cookies were lodged in my phone. Job done!

All this goes to prove that as much as we might like to imagine we’re immune to clickbait, we all have our weak spots.
I detest clickbait. I abhor its obviousness, its transparency. Do any of these phrases have a ring of familiarity?:

  • …you won’t believe what happens next.
  • 17 secrets [xxxxx] don’t want you to know
  • [xxxxx] Companies/Professionals hate this trick
  • How one woman made £££ in her bedroom
  • The 15 fakest/worst/most terrifying…
  • Lose 15 kg in 3 months with this natural product
  • The hot new [xxxxx] everyone is talking about
  • 20 Signs You’re actually a [xxxxx]

Just to run through this list:

  • I will believe it but I won’t care.
  • They’re not secrets and nobody gives a stuff if you know them.
  • Ditto Companies/Professionals
  • If anyone, ever made more than loose change doing this probably phoney thing, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. (As far as I know, only one kind of woman makes £££ in her bedroom!!!)
  • Says you…
  • Ooh! It says natural, it must be good! (I would add that wasp stings, gum boils and snot are also quite natural)
  • It may be hot. It may be new but nobody is talking about it.
  • Or, 20 piles of piffle we dreamt up during a fag break.

Have you ever clicked on something you were told would “amaze you” or “change the way you see the World” or “restore your faith in humanity” (always presuming you had lost it to begin with) to find that the pretty mundane content did none of the above? Then yes, you, like me, have been suckered in by clickbait.

“Here’s ten things you never knew about toenail clippings. (number 8 will amaze you!!)”

“Here’s what the kid from a 1980s soap powder commercial looks like now!” (Basically, a middle-aged version of themselves!)

As a footnote, people on YouTube are always “owning” or “schooling” other people by offering a slightly different opinion to them, as if they’d skewered them with a sort of verbal harpoon!

However, whilst I wish I could say I never fall for clickbait, actually it turns out that I’m just as likely as anyone to be inveigled by all the sweeties and shiny things the Internet has to offer.

Anyway, I must wrap up there. It seems that single women in my vicinity are just itching to meet me!

Keith

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