1) You are a follower, or at least a reader, of my blog and came across this post. Thank you for being a reader.
2) You clicked a link from @EarthNewsNet on Twitter because of some "interesting" headline. This, of course, is what our topic is about...
By now you've realized, hopefully, that the headline is made up. I fabricated it. Some of the made up headlines are for simple amusement, while others have a more direct purpose. The point of this little "social experiment" is to open your eyes, at least slightly, to how easy it is to manipulate the human mind. However, making an outlandish statement isn't the full picture, it needs to appeal to a certain crowd. For example, "Godzilla is the new zombie dinosaur.". That, in itself, is ridiculous. Any person that was not remotely interested in any of those topics, could care less. Targeted at the right group, however, gamers and sci-fi fanatics jump to mind, and you're bound to get some "clicks".
Big deal, right? Not really, this is actually an annoying and frustrating trend. I subscribe to a lot of Twitter feeds, mostly about different news postings: video games, global news, politics, local news, etc. @BreakingNews is one of the few feeds that gives a concise indication of what you're about to click is: i.e. "Murder suspect found in XYZ Shooting". Beautiful. Clear and to the point, because for them, it's about getting the information out, not about the "clicks". Sorry to pick on @Time, but they are just one of the few that has been bothering me recently. Here is an actual twitter headline: "Will the discovery of aliens change the world?". Before we go on about this, head to http://twitter.com/#!/TIME and scroll down to just see how many headlines are in the form of a question and how vague, yet "tantalizing they are.
Okay, so going with the headline "Will the discovery of aliens change the world?". First things first. The straight up answer is "Yes". No doubt about it, if we find alien life, intelligent at that, then yes, it will change the world. So the question is rhetorical. Secondly, when you go to the page, the title of the "article" is : "Relax: You Don't Need to Worry About Meeting E.T.". So, the whole point of that headline is to get you to visit the page, to tell you something you already know, both that alien discovery WOULD change the world, however, it's not something you need to worry about. Additionally, this information was done by MSNBC's Tech & Science section well before hand. Alright, no more @Time bashing, they were just an example.
This is a severe gimmick being propogated throughout media. It began with advertising, and continues of course. We see it every day on TV. "Want to have the body of a celebrity? Just by this pill and use twice a day for 8 weeks!", with the small font message saying "Results are not typical, pill must be taken with daily exercise and a healthy diet". No shit. If I do that without the damn pill, I'm going to lose weight at a variable rate. Well, it's moving even deeper, and becoming an accepted practice for almost every possible source of news.
The most unfortunate part about this is that it isn't really even the fault of the media. We, the consumer, allow this to happen. We merrily click away at rhetorically questioned headlines, buy items with false ads, buy ridiculous newspapers with garbage information, and give credit to any moron within the media screen (ahem 'Jersey Shore').
Next time, before you go clicking some stupid headline, buy a fake newspaper with rumours about people you shouldn't care about, or watch shows about dimwitted idiots that think life is about tanning... stop. Take the 5mins of your life that you would have wasted and learn about your environment, learn about mankinds current achievements and aspirations, realize what is happening in your local neighborhood or community, or just take a nap, because we need to stop the idiocy that is being masked as our information.