Some things in life serve only to induce rage. No matter how small these annoyances may be, they are never insignificant. 'Rant List' is the chronicle of one self-loathing narcissist's seemingly unending pettiness.

Monday, 30 June 2014

104. Clickbait

^ I bet you I will believe it, you absolute turd-burglars.

A man wrote on his blog and you won’t believe what happened next...  

Nothing. Absolutely nothing, because every clickbait article is either ineffectual, a misleading lie or both. Here’s a novel idea, purveyors of poorly thought out online journalism: how about instead of luring people in to clicking your article under false pretence, why not actually write something that somebody might want to read? I mean, if people read this tripe, there’s an audience for anything.

Oh, I know, you need those clicks to survive in this cold and cruel digital environment. They provide ad-based revenue streams and help optimise your position in search engines yada yada yada no one cares etc. But if people visit your website after a misleading clickbait title, only to immediately click off your site after realising what you’ve just done, they’re probably unlikely to come back and read your stuff again. Your short-term gain of one click sacrifices a long-term potential of ongoing loyalty clicks from users who return frequently because they think you might actually have something to offer them.

Outside of the worlds of Marketing™, Search™, Advertising™ and Communications™, no one gives a solitary toss about clicks. Why? Because they’re cocking meaningless. It’s a fundamental mistake of webmasters* that this is how the success of their domain should be measured. How have we got to a stage in digital world where the number of hits a site gets is more important than whether or not anyone ever actually reads it? It’s not even like most outlets are making articles that are particularly hard to read anymore – everything on the internet basically takes the easily digestible Buzzfeed model, splitting things to consumable numbered morsels so that users can cheerily snack on content during those three minute mental sparks where their attention span still exists (as touched on in No. 103).

Nothing shows how little value you have for your own written words if you have to use clickbait to get people to read your work. You may as well pack up and go home already, you gitlord.

*do people even use the term ‘webmaster’ anymore, or is it one of those remnants of the late ‘90s internet lexicon that are no longer in vogue like ‘cyber cafĂ©’ and 'Keanu Reeves' career'?

103. The overabundance of content on the internet and how it has destroyed my attention span.

^ I really wish I didn't relate to this as strongly as I do.

       Right now, I am currently trying to focus and write a blog post. It's not going well. I write Rant List purely out of choice, as some misguided attempt at having a hobby. It is of my own volition and it is something I very actively want to do and, indeed, do more of (something about assembling a body of evidence for the case of me being a whiny git is oddly compelling). And yet, in the space it has taken to write these first couple of lines, all I can think about is opening up new tabs on my browser and seeing what else is happening online. I have already checked social media notifications on my phone. I am using my laptop in my living room, watching Metallica’s Glastonbury set on iPlayer as I type away (as a result, don’t be surprised if I occasionally add in a Hetfieldism – yeah-yeaaaaah). I run out of steam and lose the ability to concentrate about every 30 seconds, either tweeting inane thoughts in to the digital ether or seeing if anything interesting has popped up on Reddit (it hasn’t, obviously – just some angry American teens ranting about how they were discriminated against for being privileged white males who don’t believe in God). I am sporadically coming back to this post. 

On the one hand, this could be considered an example of how modern people are so wonderfully predisposed to multitasking that it’s essentially a second nature to us now. But that would be wrong. Multi-tasking has become a crutch, an excuse for inattention. I am no longer to solely focus my effort on one thing at a time and really give it the due care and craft that it really deserves. Instead, I half-arse everything, reluctantly forcing productivity out of my strained brain in 30 second chunks in-between Youtube videos and segments of Cracked articles. The other day, I struggled to read a comic book without doing something else every few pages. A comic book. It was about 20 pages long and most of it was pretty pictures, for crying out loud. 

The issue is modern consumer technology is entirely founded on distraction. In some ways, this has always been the case. Or, at least, it was for me - about a decade ago, I could think of few things more fun than whittling away a couple of hours trawling the internet for in-depth information on music or video games and patiently reading every last word. But the difference then was that I could focus; I didn’t click away mid-paragraph, I read what I wanted to read. It was a distraction, but it wasn’t marred by a sea of other, more bite-sized distractions constantly baying for my attention to me like sick e-sirens. Distraction wasn’t deeply ingrained in to the way we consume media - there was no Buzzfeed, there were no listicles, there were no smartphones with Sonic CD on them, there wasn’t Vine or Instagram, there weren’t any other easily digestible pieces of content proliferating every fabric of my being and it was relatively easy to separate the digital world from my own sense of physicality. Now, however, it’s as if the once liberating feeling of all the information in the world basically being at our fingertips has shifted in to a crushing oppression of too much data for one person to ever skim through, let alone understand. Even something like opening up Netflix and deciding what I want to watch is now an utter chore, with the result being that I collapse in to a quivering wreck, lying on the living room floor in a foetal position, unable to decide between binge-watching Archer or re-watching Black Books. 

The internet has destroyed me. Modern technology has destroyed me. And I’d wager it’s destroyed a lot of you. Why else would you be here, reading this in between scanning your Facebook timeline? You, like me, now simply exist to kill time; to find distraction so you don’t have to focus on anything real or meaningful for more than three minutes at a time. Because that’s all we can handle, as the internet gradually melts our brains in to soft, squidgy brain putty. 

But dude, check out this video I found about dogs and socks. 

Tl;dr – I haven’t read a book since 2003. 
Tl;dr2 – internet.