Thursday, July 2, 2015

I Was Writing Just Another Blog Post But Then I Couldn't Believe...

What does a corgi in a swing, a bunch of ominous arrows, and random question marks have in common with my blog about Asperger's? Want to take a guess? Anything? You got nothing, right? And that actually is the right answer because the photo I used to share this post on Facebook is nothing more than the most annoying thing, in my opinion, to ever grace social media and that is the click-bait.

You had to know, right? You just had to know why there was a corgi in a swing and what was to camera left. I mean, the arrows are pointed that way as is my sister's dog's eyes. What is over there? And therein lies the problem with stories on Facebook now which annoys me to a point of being angry.

I've been blogging for over five years now and there has been a dynamic shift in the way stories are shared. When I started stories were shared due to their merit but over time the ominous red circle, arrows, and headlines which give just a fraction of information makes a person curious enough to click. Did the story have substance? Sometimes, but other times the story had no substance other than to spike the curiosity of the reader to make a person click.

Other ways this is done by the language of stories now. Next time you're going through your news feed on Facebook take a look at the personal language; just in this post I did it with using the, "I couldn't believe" line. Perhaps this is making stories appear more personal for the user. This type of headline was originally just for click-baiting viral types of things but now I've seen editorials on respected news websites going to this type of language.

What does this all matter besides simply annoying me (it does, trust me)? Becoming visible in today's world of viral media is becoming increasingly harder and harder. Gone are the days of things being shared on merit alone. Perhaps this is the way it's always been in life with marketing being ever so important, but simple things aren't being shared. Unless it has a, "Watch the guy on the left" or, "it looks like a normal street but just wait..." or, "a letter to someone I used to know who is now somewhere else now but maybe will read this or maybe they won't..." it may not even register the slightest of blips on the radar.

Maybe this world of click-baiting stories is working because that's what people want. We as humans are curious and who wouldn't want to know what that corgi in a swing is looking at? Is it fair, though, to blatantly abuse this trait? Maybe it's a bit hypocritical of myself to use the thing I'm complaining about to prove the point, but that within itself is the point.

Where is the future going to take us? I have no idea! Will the red circles and arrows eventually wane? Will users grow tired of being told to watch the third lady on the left, or being told in advance that someone is about to steal the show? We may be curious but what happened to the surprise? Where's that factor? Also, as click-baiting evolves, what will it look like in five years? As I said, when I started blogging there wasn't anything like we see today. Some news stories had some and I can remember the first place I ever saw a click-bait of any sort and that was on Yahoo's home page in 2012 on their news links with headlines such as, "Five television shows are being cancelled" and then the clickable link stated, "is it your show?" Yes, it is clever and yes you do want to know if your show is being cancelled, but now the entire internet is in a battle for your attention and coming up with more and more extreme descriptors to garner your click. It's a battle and one that, outside of this single post, I won't be fighting in. I'm going to continue to simply write my material and share it the way I always have. Maybe it's the Aspergers in me, and maybe it's the fact I know nothing about marketing, but I've always believed the subject matter should stand alone without gimmicks or tricks.

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