I am sure that you have recently clicked on a news story thinking you were about to read about a particular topic as advertised by the article title and halfway through the article you came to find it was nothing at all as advertised. At that point you realize you were taken in by “click bait“. What is that, you may ask? It is a new way of doing a switch and bait. At any one point in time, go to the Huffington Post and there will assuredly be a minimum of five such click bait articles. They have sensational, over-hyped titles that are just meant to get you to click on the articles so that they can make some money which they then do not share with their writers. However, an we really be mad, as a society, with the Huffington Post and others that engage in such a practice?
Just last week, a staff member told me that they never watch the news and get every piece pf news from Facebook. Recent research also shows that a majority of people get the majority of their news from social media. With that being the case, there has to be something that catches your attention. Hence, click bait. Let us not kid ourselves. This is not a new phenomenon. The local news has been doing this for decades. They often would have a quick commercial snippet that went something along the lines of “Join us at 11 where you will learn how bees are about to kill us ion our sleep these next few weeks. ” Huh? Then you come to watch the segment and it is all about a new toy or something totally innocuous.
What bothers me a bit more is how this “click-bait” mentality is being used in the workplace as well now. There may be times when I get a meeting request to discuss how the center if going to go out of business tomorrow if we don’t act today. Or I got a meeting request to address a systems problem that really turns out to be a need for ego-stroking discussion. Perhaps instead of click baits they are more like trojan horses. However, I prefer to label it as click baits because these request are sent electronically and are meant to get you to think you are about to meet and discuss one thing when a totally different topic is introduced and interjected into the conversation with no real recourse out of that conversation at that moment. In moments like that I sigh internally and push through. At least with a click bait article I can close the documents. That is, if there are no additional pop ups. Which inevitably there are.
However, my question is why do people feel that they have to hide their true motives? Why are things sugar-coated or hyper coated? Sure, these days it i fairly easy to ignore people. Despite our addiction to our phones there is no real reason to pick up the phone. You can see the number and decide to just let it go to voicemail. Furthermore, sure you can see the stream of emails coming in but you do have some self-control and the ability to ignore. Not everyone does. I, for one, tend to read my emails as they come in and try to answer them quickly to just get them out of my way. But, even a person like me, lets many emails go unanswered. With our technological advances that were meant to enhance interconnections and communications, it has become easier to ignore someone. Make that many someones. As such, you need click (listen-to-me!) baits. Personally, I would prefer if people went around with billboards where they noted what they most wanted: attention, comfort, a raise, praise. How about a little truth in advertising? Now that is radical.