It seemed like a normal day as I browsed Facebook. What happened next will restore your faith in humanity!
It’s a term that’s grown in popularity over the past several years.
Disclaimer: Doctors won’t hate me for this! At least I hope they won’t.
You will believe what happens next! It’s probably what you think! My jaw literally did not drop! (Until the end.)
Those of us with social media accounts see similar barrages of exclamation points everyday.
Websites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy are infamous (or perhaps in-famous?) for these catchy headlines designed to evoke irrepressible curiosity and the occasional 2 a.m. existential crisis.
What country do I actually belong in? What color describes my inner personality? What Disney princess am I?
It’s as if BuzzFeed sees into the hidden depths of my soul. It has the answers to questions I never knew I needed answered.
Apparently, the answers are the U.K., yellow and Pocahontas. Who knew?
But the hypocrisy of click bait intrigues me most — or more so, the hypocrisy of those of us who use it.
I hate click bait. I rail against it all the time. Most people I know do the same. Even major publications ranging from The Atlantic to The New York Times attack it regularly.
The level of contempt has risen so high that, last August, Facebook announced it would take measures to reduce the amount of click bait that appears in users’ News Feed.
However, it seems like the amount of click bait-related content has not significantly decreased over the past year. Why?
We loathe its spam-ish headlines, we detest its kitschy content, but mostly we hate the awkward sense of self-shame we feel when we click on it.
And there is the crux.
Although the content of click bait is justifiably deplorable, we hate it not for the content itself, but because we surrendered our better judgment to it.
We hate click bait because we hate our own inability to resist it.
Click bait is an addiction.
The greatest hypocrisy, however, lies not with the fact that we keep opening such links, but that we share them.
It is one thing for a catchy headline to beguile you — it is easy to forgive that sort of weakness.
It is quite another thing to actively share it with all your friends on social media.
That is the reason we continue to see Upworthy articles and BuzzFeed listicles in our News Feed.
In truth, that is part of click bait’s allure.
We entice our friends to it. Sharing click bait only perpetuates it.
I propose a solution.
As we seem incapable of resisting click bait, let’s agree to recognize our own frailty and quickly forgive ourselves when we occasionally fall.
But equally, let’s agree to starve the beast and stop sharing our Internet transgressions so freely with others — except cat videos, of course.
Our feline overlords own the Internet, and we must not offend them.
Please, stop sharing click bait.
By doing so, we can make a better, freer Internet for ourselves and future generations.