We know that it’s not worth our time, but we don’t want to feel left out when everyone else is watching. 

2018 has been the year of YouTube “drama” and “fake news”, with YouTubers and content producers alike, feeling the need to make everything seem dramatic to get an audience. Honestly, I don’t blame them, because everything has become so monetised that genuine connections with audiences aren’t the focal point anymore. Oh no, it’s all about numbers now and the amount of profit which those numbers rake in for these individuals. But it’s not just the content producers who are responsible for clickbait, it’s us as well. When you’re looking for some good content to procrastinate with, then you’re less likely to go for the smart and intellectual fluff, and more likely to go for cheap and mindless entertainment.  Even if you are watching educational content then chances are it’s a list of things such as ‘what employers look for.’

Don’t be fooled by the headlines which make empty promises and leave you unfulfilled. An article in Wired says that there are 2 things which you can blame your clickbait habit on: the role of emotions in your daily judgements/choices, and your lazy brain. The idea is that whenever we see these headlines, we become emotionally aroused and feel compelled to click on the bait; our curiosity and anticipation gets the better of us. I disagree with this notion as I believe that we’re all quite sceptical in today’s age, with “fake news” polluting media platforms – especially Facebook – and causing us to question everything as a result. However, clickbait lists such as “10 things you need to know about the Brexit deal.” are hard to resist as we prefer condensed and straightforward readings and lists make it all the easier.

Annoying as it is, clickbait will always be around us. Always telling us things like “Guess which stars died way too young” and “Retailers hate this! They don’t want you to know this!” Not all clickbait is harmless though, as these links can direct you to shady third-party sites which may prompt you to download something (potentially malware). So, how do we stay safe? Well, the obvious answer is don’t take the bait. I suggest, that the next time you come across an unfamiliar link, don’t click on them and pay attention to what it is that you’re doing, hover your cursor over the link and have a look at where it’s going to lead you. Oh, and don’t click on that weird-looking link which your friend has randomly sent you on Facebook, their account has probably been hacked.

Stay aware, stay safe and don’t let anyone else collect your data when you can help it.

Iqra Arshad