Sorry. Your mind isn’t likely to get blown, although you can now legally buy something to do the job in several states, more if you have a doctor’s note. (That reminds me. I broke my toe, and Advil ain’t cutting it. To the free clinic!) There’s not even a list.
See what I did there? I lured you in with a sensational headline that has nothing to do with the title. Well, actually, it does have something to do with it. This is a rant about said titles. This is a rant about clickbait.
You know the articles.
“What this man did with his toenail clippings will blow your mind!”
“67 Things You Didn’t Know About William Shatner”
“This One Trick Will Save You Millions On Car Insurance!”
“15 Things They Need To Stop Doing In [insert genre of movie or novel here]”
The toenail guy composted his clippings. Anyone remotely interested in Star Trek already knew 62 of those things about Shatner and the other five aren’t worth mentioning. Just ask Bill. Hell, just ask George Takei. The one trick on car insurance probably involves something illegal pushed by an fly-by-night insurance company hawked by a badly rendered CGI character that is not a reptile or a camel. And one of the 15 things filmmakers supposedly have rendered cliche is either characters breathing oxygen or using dialog to communicate.
I’m not a violent person, but a lot of times, I want to drive to Los Angeles and punch someone in the face for these stories. But here are some friends to explain more about it. Spoiler alert: One of them gets eaten.
The most annoying ones are the lists of “cliches” or why some rock star was a douchebag for not living up to the writer’s expectations in his or her personal life. (John Lennon and Pink Floyd seem to be favorite hipster targets.) A recent one that prompted this post was a dull list of “cliches” in superhero stories that complained about origin stories. Um… Dude, have you actually read a comic book? Or would Deadpool have been better if a guy in a red suit with amazing healing powers stalked some random British guy named Francis with firearms and swords? Other cliches? Supervillians, traumatic pasts, superpowers. Yeah. That sounds fascinating. I want to see a story where Bruce Wayne is just an arrogant bastard who randomly punches out criminals because he has rage control issues that his circle of fawning yes men will do nothing to reign in.
It’s the “You didn’t know…” (Usually, I did know.) or “What happens next will blow your mind” headlines that really grind my gears. Upworthy.com was extremely bad for the latter when they first surfaced on Facebook. Hey, I’m all for stories that empower people and brighten their days. But you can only tell me so many times that something will blow my mind before it stops blowing my mind, if it ever did in the first place. They got so bad at it that I attempted to buy a domain called “downworthy.com” or “unworthy.com” just to parody it. Someone beat me to it in both cases, and upworthy.com has toned down the claims of blowing one’s mind.
That’s not to say I’m not immune to it. We all click on something because, ooh, shiny stuff on the Internet! Why do work when there’s shiny stuff? Might not be so bad if some of the sites weren’t so clogged with ads that you have to scroll back and forth to get to whatever it is they’re supposedly talking about. And they don’t filter these ads very well. Click one at work (if your employer allows you to get away with it) and see if one or two ads get blocked not by any software installed on your computer but your company’s network firewall. I once clicked on a story about a local sports figure only to get a firewall message that porn was not permitted on the company network. Um… It would not surprise me if Adam Jones looks at porn, but what the hell did that have to do with his propensity for picking off Ben Rothlisberger’s passes?
It’s the scourge of the Internet. Now that spam has been pounced upon and expertly shredded by most ISPs and email providers, they have to do something else to get us to click those links. And someone is paying for those ads that choke the sites they lead to. Which means someone is clicking on them, sometimes by accident.