There was a time when ‘did you click?’ meant someone asked if you got along with someone.
Then came TV remote controls, the age of the clicker, and ‘did you click?’ took on new meaning.
The computer, the computer mouse, and the ability to point and then click have become our primary on-screen activities – apparently, we do more clicking than keyboarding …
But ‘did you click?’ is now a two-pronged assault on our sanity and internet security management.
The bogus headlines, schemes and scams have heightened our interest and ballooned our time-wasting rabbit hole burrowing.
We too often hear someone lamenting how their computer or phone got hacked, their data compromised, and virus bombs set off chaos inside their black boxes. And each time we hear those stories, it’s because someone clicked on something they ought to have seen as suspicious.
The bait, the click-bait, is marketing merged with luring people of all ages (everyone with a device is probably an addicted user), and then the ensuing breadcrumb trail we follow is click-click-click-click into a world of distractions and avoidable risks. Those with robust firewalls, filters, spam and spoofing detectors see the term phishing far too often.
Worst, the spoofers often appear to be a known/safe sender; they are on a phishing expedition aimed at gathering data, identities, access, passwords and eyeballs – the art of distraction is key to magic tricks and most massive cons.
But aside from the dangers, it must be fun, or so many people wouldn’t be clicking on that bait …
How much time do you waste on clickbait and similar wasteful social media diversions?
Far more than we think, and if we tracked it, we might wonder what we could have been doing with all that time we wasted on that clicking …
Clickbait is becoming a well-known term (not to be confused with a movie by that name), but I wonder if it means the same thing to everyone.
I publish some pieces on Medium.com, a long-form writing site spawned by one of the co-founders of Twitter. Medium sends me a digest of their reports with popular daily articles that still need to be fact-checked. Still, they are by writers with a large following of readers, so it’s a statistically popular article if it’s in that daily headline. Most days, I don’t have time for a deep dive, but I scan it for something that might be topical for me or by a writer I’ve come to like.
The other day the titles were: 7 Passive Income Ideas – How I Earn $350 A Day; Here’s the Strategy to 10X Your Energy so You Can Finally Do the Things You’ve ______; This Decision Changed My Life And My Business; The 15 Tips To Attract Girls Without Saying ANYTHING!; Is the Human Race Being Played
Without reading subtitles or text, those headlines alone (they only need you to be drawn to one of them), get you clicking.
I’ve purposely NOT included links to those in this piece because I would surely lose many readers – because, seriously, who wouldn’t be drawn to at least one of those articles?
But the point of them is not to fix your life or your wallet but to help them fill their wallet. Could they write a better headline? This compelling title did two essential things: intrigue me, and once I begin reading what I’ve clicked on, the subject matter as a well-written essay/argument/opinion or something makes a convincing case to be worthy of my time, attention, and I’ll finish reading that piece feeling better informed, more thoughtful, or inspired by their call to action.
Sadly for many writers who use clickbait rather than substance, I click the delete button on my computer before I finish the second paragraph. It’s not that I must have magical prose, but without some magical content that will help me in some critical way, it’s a waste of time, and I click on my merry way.
We all know it; we’ve all been lured by something we clicked on that intrigued us, got our attention, or contacted us curious about how someone made mega-bucks a week without trying very hard. Life’s hard knocks, and our parents' advice teaches us hard lessons; if something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't true*, and we should avoid every come-on as a waste of time brought to us by someone who thinks I’m a sucker and wants to reach into my wallet at the same time. We know that, but we check these things out periodically for fun, idle curiosity, or to waste time …
But we don’t expect a windfall any more than we would expect to win the lottery jackpot or a March madness bracket contest.
But a package of clickbait from a reliable source – who can’t at least scan that?
*parents' advice - if something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't true* - I remember the irony of my mother saying that to me many ways and many times, which was great advice - something she swiftly discarded every time a talking head or an outrageous political headline lit an opinion fire under her that she shared with anyone who would listen.
(Augusta Arlena Kolke died 22 years ago yesterday)
YES. And btw, you wrote, “I don’t know if anything I do will change the world or anyone else’s world.” Actually, you do. Know. Sometime in March 2007, you and I had coffee. We talked about many things and one of them was, writing. You encouraged me to start a blog. On March 21 of that same year, I started my first blog, Recover Your Joy. Jan 2012, I moved to DareBoldly. I may have changed blogging platforms, but the fact is, I needed your encouragement to start that first blog and keep the momentum going. Your cheerleading kept me writing. And writing has changed my world and me. I know, from the many messages I’ve received, that many people have been impacted by what I write. In some small way, it changed them. I also know, from reading the comments other people write here, you’ve had the same experience many times, of people writing in to tell you how what you wrote changed them. Just today, if you change anything, make it be how you celebrate the amazing impact you’ve had on so many people’s lives just by turning up here, every single day for over 20 years. You’ve created thousands of ripples in that ocean that keep rippling out as one person feels the ripple of your words and adds theirs to your ripple and yours to theirs. Thanks for the inspiration Mark, LG, Calgary, AB
Look at how well I follow instructions! Yes, please keep me subscribed, SB, Calgary, AB
AND - if you have a minute - I've relocated the Monday Morning Minute publication. It's now over on my 'Mark writes here' profile at Substack.