Why I Hate Clickbait Titles (But Still Wrote One)

Miraculous discovery to help you LOSE WEIGHT faster!

This supermodel does ONE thing each morning to erase wrinkles. Click here to find out what!

I ate BURGERS for breakfast every single day for a year; here’s what happened.

This simple drink prevents cancer — learn how to make it at home!

Does titles like that look familiar to you?

I know, right — what have we done with the Internet!

If you’re online & on the social media daily, you’re bombarded with content that’s promising to make you something more: slimmer, prettier, healthier, more successful, more productive.

Even if you voluntarily chose not to come across content like that — let’s say, by unfollowing pages & businesses that promote content like that, something I do whenever I read some BS — the social media ads are creeping right back in with some more clickbait titles on your feed!

(and yes, I meticulously hide them from my feed as well!)

Once I started diving in the deep, dark waters of the Internet and realized what’s the sole reason behind content like that — I’m so not going to go into that right now — I thought to myself:

Really? Does anyone even click titles like that? Does anyone even believe it?!

But it turns out that the average person, the person who doesn’t know all the behind-the-scenes parts of titles like that do — because they’re emotionally manipulated into it.

Different theories suggest a different number of basic emotions, but for the sake of not making this article a 15-thousand-word read, let’s take a look at the human emotions that are most often used as triggers in clickbait titles:

  • Curiosity

Something that feels more as an impulse, an almost-survival instinct, something that has kept humanity moving forward for centuries. Humanity greatest accomplishments were achieved thanks to someone’s curiosity!

And nowadays, things get a bit messy because… well, we get curious about weird stuff that’s not always moving humanity forward.

Like the 17 cute puppies you’ll want to adopt RIGHT now. Oops.

  • Despair

The emotion — or often, the whole emotional state! — that you feel whenever life sucks. Things don’t go as planned, you’re fed up & hopeless about everything and as if that’s not enough, the WiFi isn’t loading new content fast enough on your feed. Bummer.

Despair often has the power to jumpstart your brain and make it look for a solution — NOW, no matter how unrealistic the solution is. Anything, really, will do in moments of despair.

Yes, even reading something like the miraculous discovery that will help you lose weight faster.

(it’s drinking water, btw — in case you were curious)

  • Anger

Should we even go there? But if you take a deeper look under the burning rage on the surface, you’ll notice that anger is nothing more than the feeling of hopelessness & helplessness.

But we also get angry when we have to deal with idiots. Just sayin’.

The worst type of anger?

When you’re angry with yourself — as it then triggers guilt that you’re not doing something, anything, enough about your own self.

The next thing you know, you’re ravaging the Internet looking for 7 habits athletes have that help them gain muscle in only 4 weeks.

  • Fear

Because who wants to die if they don’t make the simple drink that prevents cancer?

  • The need for approval

The very basic human need to fit in better and be more of what YOU feel like you aren’t already: slimmer, prettier, younger, and ultimately, happier.

(Hint — it’s a trap, don’t fall for it!)

Do you notice a trend there — how most of the emotions you get triggered on an everyday basis are negative?

The only one that’s positive has the impact to make you procrastinate as hell — curiosity killed the cat! — because I don’t really think the survival of mankind depends on your ability to organize your sock drawer in mere 7 minutes this afternoon!

Unless your OCD prevents you from making that damn breakthrough in your career.

So basically, what I’m trying to say is that the Internet is drowning in content that’s screaming at you stuff like:

Miraculous discovery to lose weight = you’re not slim enough

The supermodel formula to eternal youth = you’re not young enough

The burgers-for-breakfast thing = your healthy diet isn’t enough to lose weight

The all-mighty cancer cure = you’re not doing enough to prevent cancer

And you get pissed off if the wifi isn’t loading things fast enough, huh?

Because then, you can’t get your daily dose of content that makes you feel as if you’re not good enough — and that your socks drawer sucks.

Add in to that the fact that patience is NOT the biggest virtue of the modern world — we want everything right here, right now — and you see why this stuff works.

Instant gratification anyone — here, I have some for you, screams the click-bait title you so want to click on right now.

So maybe this burgers-for-breakfast thing works better than my free-range egg omelette, huh?

So maybe I need to buy that sock drawer organizer — if it really helps me be more productive.

Maybe I will be more content if…

It’s always an if in the story.

And then we wonder what’s wrong with the world?

All of this is good and nice — but WHY did you use a clickbait title then?

Because we’re drowning in content that YOU won’t click to read unless it gives you hope of making you feel good, even if for a mere minute. Content that inspires, motivates and makes you want to become a better person today.

I get — it’s the way things work nowadays. I agree bad titles are no bueno. I wouldn’t read articles like that myself.

But I didn’t guilt-trip you about reading it.

I didn’t say you were going to die if you don’t read it.

I didn’t piss you off or made you feel miserable — or made you feel as if you’re not enough.

I just tingled your curiosity — the only positive emotion on the list.

And I did it on my own risk — because each clickbait title comes with its own set of high expectations. And boy oh boy, what a risky article to post as my first one out here!

Yes, I abused your curiosity — and I very much hope you’re not regretting it right now — but I only did it so in the end, you’re smiling and nodding up & down with your head in agreement.

See, here’s what’s wrong with the online content nowadays:

We’re drowning in content so much, that we start skipping mostly everything we come across. Our emotional triggers get pulled every few minutes — each time you check your social media feed or read an article.

Naturally, we try to shut them down.

But what you don’t realize is that whenever you try to screen out the bad, you start screening out the good as well.

We become skeptical. Regular. Boring.

Not curious, not happy, not enough.

And somehow, before you know it, you’re on this quest to finding happiness — even if you were perfectly happy with yourself before something you’d read online convinced you are not.

So yes, there goes your answer — I hate clickbait titles because they take away our emotions, the very basic thing that makes us human.

They make you take away the yin from the yang and the yang from the yin and expect the world to be perfect!

And if you happen to use them, good for you — you have a message to send to the world. But at least say something that makes the online space a little bit better to be in.

Photo by Matthew Guay on Unsplash