It would seem that I am incapable of scrolling through my Twitter feed without having to read the story behind a box that is teasingly entitled “11 worst logo fails of all time.”
I click on the story and then instantly realise I’ve misread the title, (for clearly this piece is not about Lego) – but what the hell, this little bad boy could contain all manor of hilarious and shoddy designs for small business. There could be a “Fluck Chicken Emporium” whereupon a hapless sign writer has joined up the L and the U… and inevitably, there is.
I am of course falling prey to ‘clickbait’ and also happen to be just one of the many bastards on the planet who use the dark art as part of their vocation – it is a tool in the armoury of many industries.
There was a time when clickbait was better known as a newspaper headline. Both co-exist now of course, both driving advertising revenue and with the recent closure of the Independent in newspaper form it serves as a stark reminder of just how vital getting people’s attention (to hook them in) can be.
Sam Wallace who is now chief sports writer at the Telegraph, said of his former paper, “People would say I really love the Independent, its closure is such a shame, but when was the last time you actually bought it? People need to act, the content you enjoy reading costs money to make.”
Nowadays of course it’s no longer just the front and back pages carrying the can, we see each individual online story being given its own chance to form an attention grabbing headline, its very own enticing shop window. And the sirens drawing us in lie everywhere from Justin Bieber’s new hair cut to, well Jeremy Corbyn’s new hair cut.
A friend of mine, who coincidentally works for a newspaper, shared a brilliant story recently of a guy in his 20s who had gone on a Tinder date only to discover upon arrival that the woman he was hooking up with was in her late 50s (he was under the impression they were of a similar age). His friend said “Why are you surprised you can clearly see her profile pictures are from the 1970s.” To which he replied, “I thought she was using an Instagram filter.” What a time to be alive.
But I suppose Tinder is yet another form of clickbait. We are all ultimately bringing people in – only then do we get a glimpse of the truth. A lot can lie beneath the surface but first you have to grab them.
Of the articles I’ve had published over the years, one I am particularly proud of was my story of meeting two very wonderful and influential men at a difficult time in my life, Ian and Ian. The piece focused on working with them as a teenager in their vintage clothing store and as a result where I learnt so much about music, fashion and more importantly people’s rights and their struggles to get them. In the piece I shared my views on how young people in some industries are being treated and most definitely mistreated at their work placements. But how did the newspaper headline the article on their title Twitter feed? “How a tattoo changed my life!”
I use it on my radio show all of the time. My personal favourite of recent times being “Kim Kardashian West has attacked Bette Middler after talk of a well placed mini camera went viral. I’ll tell you everything you need to know next” (after the ad break).
And if I’m honest, I myself as a broadcaster really quite enjoy playing around with the headlines. It’s salacious; it’s fun and part of the game we all play. It’s mainly bullshit but we’re all clicking, listening and watching.
Oh and here are my suggested top three clickbait titles to illustrate this piece;
“This revelation will change the way you live your life, forever.”
“Click click click click Boom!”
Or of course…
“Dave Berry witters on about reading articles he had no intention of looking at but being a gullible moron he did read them, just like most of us have, because that’s the world we now live in today and how so many of us choose to consume our news.”
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