What comes to your mind when you think of a headline? Probably something which will easily summarize the whole article or video in a line or two. What doesn’t come to your mind is how irrelevant these headlines can sometimes be. These act as nothing but baits to grab the reader’s attention as well as their clicks. So is it really hard to ignore these clickbaits and continue with your regular net surfing? The answer can be yes and no, depending upon the ability of your mind to resist the bait.
What is clickbait?
According to the definition, a clickbait is a headline or a thumbnail link that attracts attention and tempts the users to follow the link and read or view the linked online content. But this doesn’t mean that the content will be exactly related to the headline. The content may or may not deliver its promise. And even if it does, it might be of poor quality. There is also no guarantee that the promised content will be of any good.
Attracting and Switching
It is exactly what most of the content providers do. They choose a specific headline that attracts people but has no relation with the actual content.
Let’s take an example of a YouTube video with a thumbnail of actor Chris Hemsworth with the title of 10 famous Hollywood celebrities getting a divorce this year. Well, as vague as it may seem, putting a pic of Chris will, for sure, attract a lot of audiences and give views to the content but will he be there on the list? The answer is pretty obvious because most of us know that the actor is quite happy with his family. So what happens is you do not find Chris on the list, but you do get many other celebrities.
Keeping the promise but not delivering the quality content
Sometimes the content providers choose over-the-top headlines to attract viewers to their content. But do they keep the promise? Do they satisfy the curiosity which developed after reading the headline? Usually, the answer is no.
You might see headlines like “10 mind-blowing facts about the human body, you didn’t know”. But the question is, are the stated facts mind-blowing? Upon reading the article, you might feel like you already knew these things, or there was nothing astonishing about the facts. You might even regret spending time over that content, questioning how you got there- which is, basically, the whole point.
Clickbaiting is an addiction
Clickbaits are usually based on the principle of general addiction. For example, while playing a game, you keep doing a certain activity repeatedly, just to get the variable rewards at the end of it. The same idea has been used to design social media platforms. Though it can be hard to manage different platforms at once, you can use websites like Pyxis Social to manage all your handles and capitalize on your social media.
Moreover, you keep scrolling through your Instagram or Twitter page from time to time, just to see the number of likes and retweets. Sometimes you find many likes, and sometimes you find nothing, making the whole process addictive and obsessive. And that’s exactly how clickbaits work. You know you are wasting your time, you know these are clickbaits, but you still keep moving from one article to another.
Making false promises
It’s not necessary for a clickbait to always break or keep a promise. Sometimes, the promise itself can be overly exaggerated, thus making it impossible to keep.
For instance, take an example of articles with headlines like “the most adorable baby in the world” or “the world’s most beautiful woman.” When you click on this kind of article, there is no doubt you’ll find pictures of some of the most beautiful ladies and the most adorable babies. But will there be proof to certify their claims? The answer is no. There won’t be a base for their claims.
These types of content providers use dishonest language and exaggerated words to bring attention to their content. Thus, making an empty set of promises cannot be kept, at least not in a truthful way.
Clickbaiting is manipulative
There is no denying that clickbaiting is manipulative. Be it your Facebook clickbait examples or the YouTube ones, we all have a general idea of how the words are used to manipulate your brain in clicking the links. Content providers use half of an actual idea and combine it with a generic provocation, making it hard to ignore. You can find many headlines starting with clauses like “You won’t believe what happens when…” or “Do this one thing, and you will never have to…”. These pique your curiosity, making it impossible for you to resist the temptation of clicking on the link.
Clickbaits- Good v/s bad content
According to a recent study by Max Planck Institute of Psycholinguistics, the same instincts tempt you to click on clickbaits with trash content able to drive you to click on contents with some actual useful information. It will not only satisfy your curiosity but also increase your knowledge. It just happens to be that the amount of such content is way less than these clickbait contents.
There is no denying that the web is full of really beneficial and amazing content, but it is also full of misleading content on the murky side of the internet. And only your intuitions can protect you from falling into the dark hole. So before randomly clicking on another article, think whether it’s worth your time or not.