You guessed it, didn't you? You knew that words fell out when I opened my mouth, and yet you still clicked on the link. That, my friends, is the power of social media, and while I loathe those click-bait articles, I often find myself hovering over them, trying to figure out just what happens next to the trampolining cheerleader, or how the deathbed letter from the dying squirrel ends. Usually, the cheerleader ends up in traction and the squirrel runs out of ink, but that's beside the point. What matters is that our interest is piqued enough to click, and that is all these websites want.
Buzzfeed and Upworthy are the purveyors of this method of content marketing, often with headlines such as, "This Dolphin Tried on This Size 10 Primark Dress - What Happened Next Will Blow Your Mind!" How can you not be intrigued by such an absurd headline? So away you click, instantly directed to the website to read all about the cross-dressing Flipper. If you're really lucky, the website will then share that link on your own Facebook timeline, saving you the trouble completely. And from there, all your friends will see that you couldn't wait to read about Dolly the Dolphin, and will want in on the action. They click, they share, they too are disappointed by the outcome of the article. And round and round it goes, a shit-covered windmill and you're standing right under it.
Clickbaiting has become such a problem that there are rumours of Facebook - who are so wonderful when it comes to advertising (does this blog support Sarcasm 7.0?) - attempting to get it banned. To which Buzzfeed might say, "OMG FB Tries to Ban Clickbaiting - You'll Never Guess What Happens Next!"
It's all a way of getting us, the gullible internet-browsing public, over to their site so that they can have their dirty, wicked way with us. Whenever I leave Buzzfeed or Upworthy, I always feel violated, checking myself over for sores or itchy spots. Sometimes I sob, "I didn't want to go theeeere! I...I didn't need to know how good the Eskimo was on the bongo drums, whaaaaaaaa!" But by then it's too late. Not even a wipe of my recent History and a hot shower can change the fact that I fell for it yet again.
So, the next time you see a clickbait article - just like the one that got you here - take a deep breath, close your eyes and count to a hundred. By the time you open them, "You'll Never Believe What Happens to this Obese Chipmunk!" will be so far down your news-feed, not even Mark Zuckerberg will be able to find it.
Writer of bestselling "The Dead" Series. Author of paranormal novels, The Susceptibles and Deathdealers, and bizarro novellas Larry, Hamsterdamned!, Vinyl Destination, and The Human Santapede.