Or in other words .... meh. That's my response to a lot of news headlines these days.
Call me cynical, but a lot of content today doesn't impress me, and it probably doesn't impress you either. Just spotting some of the puerile wordplay headlines on the front pages of the tabloids as I walk past a newsagents is enough to put me off my morning latte. Newspapers and media channels in particular revel in pushing sensationalist headlines that attract people who seem to be starved of sensory input. But worse than that is the deceit.
A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on. It was always thus, but in the age of the web, smartphones, social media and connections at the speed of thought, the dumbing down of content and the spreading of lies seems to be accelerating. Content can be misleading, inaccurate, fanciful, or downright misleading. It's designed to make you click the link, spread the content.
The format is formulaic.
There is usually a click bait headline and/or image that has little or no connection to the actual content. Often the headline has '...what happens next will blow your mind...' or a similar phrase to grab your attention. There may also be an element of subtle blackmail - '95% of my Facebook friends won't bother to read this....' or 'Share if you care about this....'
People are gullible, and will often click on any 'interesting' content that appears without thinking, so the pernicious purveyors of pap are onto a winner every time. Every time you click, they make cash. They make money off people's curiosity, and this only encourages them to create more crappy content for us to consume.
The important thing to know is that you don't need to like or share content
for it to spread. Often, simply by clicking the link to read the article, you can inadvertently spread the content to the timelines of your own small circle of social media friends. You probably don't want to do that. The content may be hateful and racist, or discriminatory in some other way, or more subtly, it may be an innocuous headline that has a deeper agenda and a extreme political organisation behind it (See for example the Britain First Facebook posts
Every one of us is susceptible to this, but to safeguard our timelines, our reputations as professionals, and the hearts and minds of our friends and family, a simple strategy is available. Firstly, block and/or unfollow anyone who is an incessant trash content sharer. Don't engage with them. Simply cut them out of your timeline. However, the best strategy would be to question everything you see online - use your discretion, and check out the headlines.
If it looks too good to be true or looks unbelievable, it probably is.
[To be continued in the next blog post - Lies, damn lies and social media
Yeah, right by Steve Wheeler
was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's