Breaking the Upworthy Cycle

only you can prevent linkbait

So, most people dislike Upworthy to some extent. The aversion to it ranges from the cusp of indifference to a psychotic, visceral hatred. But no one likes Upworthy—probably not even people who work at Upworthy. If this is so, why do people keep sharing it? Most of my friends are reasonably intelligent and sophisticated, yet I keep seeing Upworthy links on social media.

The reason is this: people think the video they happen to like is the exception to the “Upworthy sucks” rule. The problem is that everyone does this. No drop thinks it causes the flood. Same principle applies here.

Here’s how it works!

The Upworthy Cycle

You log into Facebook and see that one of your friends posted an Upworthy link. He says something about how he doesn't usually share them, but this one is worth it.

You think, “hmm… well, this looks interesting I guess. I like Carl Sagan.” You decide to click.

You arrive on Upworthy. You read the gross Upworthy-style description and summary. You feel dirty but press on because, god damn it, it’s Carl-Fuckin’-Sagan.

You enjoy the video—which, you know, had nothing to do with Upworthy. You think your friends would enjoy the video, too, but you feel like an asshole sharing an Upworthy link. So, you caveat that this one is different and you normally don’t share Upworthy links.

Aaaand the cycle repeats.

Breaking the Cycle

Steps 1 and 2 are the same. You click an Upworthy link and feel terrible about yourself. Wait, what’s this?

Oh right, it’s just a YouTube video wrapped in bullshit. You click to watch the video there. And look! They provide a link to share it with your friends!

Snag the link, post it to your wall, and the friends who like it will share the direct link on Facebook or Twitter or wherever.

Congratulations! You’ve broken the Upworthy cycle. Now go celebrate by reading things only a 90s kid will appreciate.

Oh and hey, if you still miss those vomit-inducing headlines, check this out: