As I was scrolling through Facebook earlier, I came across a picture someone had shared that was originally posted by a page called “Your Tattoos Make You A Horrible Mother.”
I looked up the page. It is set up as though they (the owners of the page) are completely serious and totally passionate about the message they’re sending. It’s full of memes and “statistics” and “facts” and pictures of celebrities with quotes.
Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the names attributed to the quotes don’t match the pictures of the celebrities, and the statistics are just large graphs that don’t actually say anything. The page is so well done that even though I’m 90% sure it’s satirical and the only purpose is to make a point about how people will buy into anything and you can find a following for whatever nonsense you want to claim is truth, there’s still that 10% of doubt that makes me wonder if there are actually people out there who think this.
Here’s the thing, though: That page has over 8000 “likes”!
8000 people either agree with this nonsense or think it’s hilarious enough to follow, and I honestly can’t tell which! Moreover, when I did a search for it, I came across at least half a dozen counter pages with names like “Against Your Tattoos Make You A Horrible Mother” and “Your Tattoos Make You A Wonderful Mother” and so on.
So, not only are there 8000 people who like the original page, there are countless others out there who take it seriously enough to be mad about it and try to get others to be outraged about it and sign petitions about it and so on.
That got me thinking.
In this social media driven age, things have to be more and more inflammatory to even get attention.
How many times have you scrolled past a video with a headline that said something like, “I wasn’t impressed until she did THIS!” or “Watch until you get to the second minute, and you’ll be AMAZED!” or other such things to make you curious?
How many times have you seen a headline for an article calling someone out or saying someone did or said something really awful, only to click the link and realize the headline was totally misleading and may or may not have even been relevant to the article itself?
We’ve become such a novelty-driven culture that we won’t even click on something unless there’s some sort of weird twist or really compelling reason that we HAVE to see it RIGHT NOW.
It’s the Train Wreck Effect.
It has to be SO BAD, you can’t look away.
Sites like clickhole make tons of money doing this very thing. They come up with absurd things and write tantalizing headlines for the sole purpose of making people click on them.
And people do.
We are so eager to be outraged at whatever wrong is happening in society that we click on these completely outlandish headlines and pages and jump on whatever bandwagon sounds good without ever stopping to wonder why the road it’s traveling on is paved with such good intentions.
Clearly, I am also guilty of this phenomenon. My post calling out Fifty Shades of Rape Culture got a record number of hits. And I wrote this one all about clicking on things, hoping people will click on it.
I don’t have a solution, and I don’t even necessarily think it’s something that needs to be solved, I just think it’s interesting to note the phenomenon and be aware of the inflammatory nature of the headlines we click on.