“20 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
“Taylor Swift’s Worst Wardrobe Malfunction EVER”
“The 25 Funniest Commercials Ever Made. #14 Had Me on the Floor!”
You must surely have noticed that we are living in an age of unprecedented hyperbole. If you aren’t familiar with the word “hyperbole”, look it up right now. I’ll wait.
Ah, you’re back! You might have noticed that some definitions of “hyperbole” say that it is “not meant to be taken literally” which demonstrates that it’s really the wrong word to use in this application, because the types of claims shown above are meant to be taken literally. So maybe a better term for this sort of headline would be… oh, let’s say… “bullshit”. Yes, that seems about right. And why? Why would they so shamelessly hype their little articles? Because there’s one thing they want from you; just one minor, insignificant thing:
Yes, your click. A small thing, really. You’ll hardly miss it. Just a flick of your finger, after which you may move on to other pursuits. Read the article or don’t; it’s all the same to them, for they have received your click. It is their Precious. It is the thing they spend their waking hours craving and dreaming about receiving. The articles themselves are merely a necessary evil; not something to fuss over. While the articles may frequently indulge our presumed fetishes, the most lurid thing on display is actually the click fetish of the site’s owners.
For you see, the moment you click upon that link, the beast has been fed. The counter on that web page notches up by one. And when the counter grows large, advertisers are happy. Their money purses loosen up a little more with each click. I’m oversimplifying a more complex marketing process, but that’s the gist of it. Yes, of course – it’s about the money.
Unfortunately, this approach to online communication is contagious. Now, it’s beginning to creep into non-monetized websites. Even humble bloggers with no reward other than the pleasure of putting their words out and seeing that their words have been read are beginning to adopt the Click Whore style of titles and lead-ins. It’s becoming the common language of article titling.
Maybe, at some point, we’ll collectively figure out that we’re being duped into looking at photos and articles that don’t match the hype. But I doubt it. Too many web surfers truly do not care whether the words and images put before them contain any truth, so long as they are stimulated, diverted, and can feel that their convictions are being validated. But truth? You want truth? Sorry, we’ve stopped carrying it; truth tends to be more expensive to obtain than fantasy; demand for it was too low anyway; and besides, it alienated some of our most prized customers.
I may go back and change the title of this post. How about: “You Must Read This – The Most Important Blog Post of the Year”. Too much? Hmmm…