Thanks for clicking – but don’t expect this article to restore any faith in humanity and don’t expect it to have some shocking ending. That won’t happen. That’s clickbait for ya. I appreciate your click and after this article you will be sure to never see such an obscene title in my blog. Now I encourage you to still read on despite this disappointment.
If I see one more article or Facebook post that is titled “This Girl Did This… What Happens Next Will Shock You!” I am going to lose it. I am only twenty years old and it is already saddening to see the accelerated decline of real journalism. Sure, a title of an article is important, it is the first thing a potential reader will see, but can we all have a little bit of self-respect? Can the titles please have something to do with the articles? Can the articles be as interesting as the titles lead us to believe? Can we start writing paragraphs and stop writing lists like “The Top 10 Things you NEED to do in your Twenties” just because we are in an age where everyone has ADD.
After high school I quickly stopped reading. I forgot about English class and focused solely on math and science and boy do I regret that. Recently I started picking books back up again. I started engaging a part of mind that I had forgotten about. A part of my mind that easily succumbed to top 10 lists about nothing and wondering what happened next in the shocking story.
Since I personally went through this phase, I am going to be fairly blunt about how terrible this phase is and how we need to escape it and inspire the real journalists and writers out there to do their job.
What put me over the edge on this subject was when I scrolled through Facebook to find this shared article with the title “Democrats Introduce Bill to Ban ‘Husband’ and ‘Wife’ as ‘Anti-Gay’ Words.” This title is remarkably misleading. Here is the first sentence to give you a gist of the story:
Fresh off the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, Democrats in California have introduced a bill that would ban the words “husband” and “wife” from being used in federal law because they are “gendered terms” and discriminate against gay people.
Whether you agree or disagree with the article, the title is simply used to get people worked up. The person that shared this said “If this happens I’m seriously leaving the country.” If you read the article, you would find that this bill does not affect us. I can still get married someday and refer to him as my husband and not get attacked by the police. This is a bill that bans the use of these words in federal law. Personally, this makes sense to me. Every day there are court cases and arguments surrounding the different interpretations people have about the constitution and other laws. If laws suggest that marriage is between a “Husband and Wife” then there will be people who use these laws to their advantage to continue to deny rights to gay people.
Let’s get back to the point. This title and article resulted in a few different outcomes:
- People that read it and agreed
- People that read it and disagreed
- People that did not read it and immediately got upset
- People that read it and felt it was misleading (me)
One and two are inevitable when writing anything. Three and four can and should always be avoided. A catchy title is key to get any readers at all, but the title must still be consistent with what the piece is about. Especially if you are reporting on news.
Before I decided to click on the husband and wife article, I initially assumed it was a joke. A disreputable source that wrote this stuff just for the hell of it. Thankfully I was wrong, though I do see this everyday. And this is where my second point comes in.
There will always be people out there that write articles that are not true. Please check your sources. My boyfriend, Trevor, has even had to catch me a couple of times when I come to him with a wild story I read. He looks at me, judging, and with a simple google search of the article I find instant results that say “FAKE: …” This has led me to be much more cautious with what I read on the internet. Just as quickly as I can find absurd articles, I can do a quick search to find whether it is actually factual. Trust your gut on most things, if it seems too good or too bad or too crazy to be true, it likely is and you should turn around and verify the legitimacy of the article before you go tell a friend.
The first article that I wrote on this blog included two links that verified what I was arguing, and two links at the end of the article for reference. I received 1,080 views on that post. Twelve people clicked on the PLS link and five people clicked on the recidivism link. Assuming 17 different people, that means that less than two percent of people actually checked to see if these were (a) real links and (b) reputable. This was my first ever blog post. I appreciate the trust and benefit of the doubt, but come on, check the sources. For those of you that have not heard about the ‘Husband’, ‘Wife’ bill, I hope you went back and clicked on that link. Who knows, maybe I made all of that up to prove a point.
While the internet has brought us many great things, it has also contributed to the downfall of journalism and writing with integrity. Online news sources get most of their revenue from ads. Advertisers will pay because the site is getting a lot of ‘clicks.’ Clicks occur when people read articles. People read articles that are fun and flashy and short. The issue lies on both sides of the coin. The readers and the writers.
There are still phenomenal news sources and writers out there, but if we continue to only read the fun, flashy, and short articles then these reputable sources with integrity will be the next ones to go out of business. Please join me in making sure this does not happen.
We all have our guilty pleasures and if stumbling around on Buzzfeed is yours, then go for it. Just don’t let that be an excuse for your reading and knowledge for the day. Read some real news, open a book and then reward yourself with that Buzzfeed post that perfectly describes your relationship with your cat.
Please feel free to comment below with your thoughts. I am very curious to see if other people see this as often, especially when it comes to the different generations. Maybe this is just an issue with my generation, maybe not. Let me know.