Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Clickbait

     I’m going to go off on a bit of a rant here, so if you’re currently feeling happy and at peace with the world, stop reading.

     Have you heard the term ‘clickbait’? It means writing a deliberately provocative and controversial personal opinion that will get people raging and arguing on comment pages and social media, generating thousands of page views. It pretty much describes the output of Liz Jones and Katie Hopkins, that article on Ralph Miliband, pretty much most of the content of the Daily Mail (no, I am not going to link to that despicable rag of ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’ hateful bilge). But other papers aren’t above doing it. The Guardian does it – see Giles Fraser writing about overmedicalising sadness (and then bleating that people had misread his words. Here’s a hint for you Giles: if pretty much everyone who reads your column has the same reaction to it, the problem lies not with the reader).

     People do fall for clickbait, even when they know that do click on the link will send them into a blood pressure bursting frenzy of fury. It’s a curious thing. Why read something you know will make you incoherent with rage? Perhaps it’s a way of us expressing anger at something when our real lives offline make us angry and we don’t feel able to say so. A cathartic way of ridding ourselves of negative emotion, feeling bolstered by the knowledge that other people feel the same.

     I have my own little clickbait. And it is honestly quite pathetic. I feel ashamed of myself that this tiny little thing makes me so very, very angry. I sound like such an absolute bitch when I say it. It’s a blog. A blog about someone I don’t even know and have no desire to meet. It’s not even offensive, or controversial or written by someone whose views are diametrically opposed to mine (I’m guessing. She doesn’t say anything too insightful). But for some reason it makes me stare at the screen with loathing.

     I’m not going to link to it. And I’m watching myself very carefully to make sure I don’t write anything anyone can google to find it.*

     But it makes me stupidly and irrationally angry. For a start, the name of the blog contains a typo. Apparently this is because the name of the blog was already taken, so she just added an extra letter to keep the idea. That makes me quite cross. Why the flipping heck could you not just think of another name woman? Just seeing the irkful name in my address bar makes me seethe inwardly.

     And it’s described as ‘humorous’ thoughts and writing. I immediately have a problem with this. You are the writer. We are the readers. WE will decide if this is humorous, not you. If she’d said ‘lighthearted’, I’d be fine with it. But setting yourself up in your description as being amusing (right under the hateful typo blog name) immediately gets my hackles up and think ‘Ok, funny girl, MAKE ME LAUGH then’ and sit back, arms crossed resentfully, sceptical mood engaged.

     And therein lies the problem. She’s not funny. Not at all. I laugh very easily, too easily, according to Alistair who has had reason to tell me to ‘Calm down you hysterical mess!’ on too many occasions. I dissolve into cackling at the least opportunity, and have often found myself suddenly snorting with laughter at the memory of something funny when I’m standing in the school playground. The other mums have learnt to generally avoid me. But this blog… It’s not even faintly amusing. But it’s written in the style of someone who thinks they’re witty and has a ‘wicked sense of humour’. Not much evidence of that. No, actually, there is NO evidence of that. It’s just bland and beige and boring as fuck. So that is quite irritating, to read something in the expectation of being amused and then to realise you’ve been missold a blog.

     And she has adverts all over it. I’m not sure why, but I really dislike adverts on personal blogs (with apologies to you if you have a personal blog with ads on. If I like you, I just ignore them. If I don’t like you, I add it to my Reasons Why We Will Not Be Friends). It always makes me feel as though the writer is not writing because they need to, because they have something to say, or because they just want to get their thoughts out there. Instead, they’re grasping for something to write about so they can make a few pennies from google ads. Alistair has tried to convince me many times to put adverts on here. Not happening.

     But it’s not the adverts or lack of giggles (or even something that ever so slightly lifts the corner of my lips) that I find so aggravating. It’s the spam.

     The fucking spam.

     I’m a member of quite a few local groups on facebook. News, events, stuff to do with your kids, history of the local area (I’m a bit nerdy on history, living in a medieval city), that kind of thing. And This Woman has seemingly joined up to every local group ever invented and relentlessly spams them every single arsing day with a link to her blog. Usually with a comment like ‘Here we go! Another blog post! This time, I go shopping at Tesco!’ But she doesn’t actually update her blog very often, so we’ll have two weeks of her linking to the time her outside light wasn’t turned off, always with the same cheery assurance that that we have just been DYING to hear from her, that our homes and families have been neglected, that we have been staring at the screen with longing, desperation in our hearts, waiting for her to tell us about the time she forgot to get a third spare key cut.

     And no one ever comments. No one ever clicks ‘like’. We just ignore her (and in my case cast poisonous looks at the screen, lips tightened, eyes narrowed). And wish to buggery that she’d get the hint. But no. Every bloody day, there she is. Her profile picture now enrages me to a borderline meltdown state of mind. It’s a grainy photo of her smiling wryly at the camera, eyes rolled heavenward to indicate ‘Me? I suppose I am very amusing, yes. Me with my wicked sense of humour and humorous writing THAT NO ONE EVER COMMENTS ON OR LIKES OR SHARES EVER, despite me spamming upwards of ten groups a day’. Even her facebook timeline is nothing but ‘Hey! You guys might want to check out my new blog post! I think you might recognise yourselves!’ (yes, of course I’ve looked at her profile, I am that nosy and ridiculously bothered by her).

     And she never engages with the groups. There could be a really interesting discussion going on about, gosh, I dunno, 12th Century undercrofts in the city (sorry, I did say I’m nerdish about history) that everyone is finding fascinating. And then she pops up. ‘Morning! Been doing a little bit of blogging! Here’s something about the time I couldn’t find my corkscrew!’ I find it incredibly rude. It’s like butting into someone’s deep and meaningful conversation and blurting out ‘Hey hey hey! I’ve got a joke for you! Why did the chicken cross the road?’ and then moving over to the next group of people as soon as you’ve rolled out the punchline.

     And the really, really stupid thing is that I ALWAYS click on her links to her blog. So I am feeding her addiction to relentlessly throwing her blog onto facebook, because obviously she can see where she’s getting traffic from, and realises she’s going to get at least one reader from all the groups she keeps pestering, so she’ll keep on doing it. I am part of the problem. I really should just block her, so that I can’t see when she’s posted. I know this.  But it is clickbait. And I can’t help myself.


*If by any horrible mischance she ever does come across this (the fallout of L reading Aftermath of a miscarriage is still uncomfortably fresh), then by all means Spammer Lady, do feel free to write a blog post about a complete and utter bitch slagging you off and being really unnecessarily personal and cruel. I am writing/ranting this so that I don’t comment on your facebook spam with the Mumsnet response of ODFOD, which would make me as rude as you are.

3 comments:

Meeshie said...

So we've learned that along with 'sensitive' we can add 'enjoys a smidge of self torture in the evenings' to your list of quirky goodness? ;)

Honestly, the thing you do with the blog? It's no different than what I do with a certain TV show that shall remain nameless due to my shame in watching it. I watch it because it angers and upsets me and I actually yell at my TV set while my husband tells me I'm an idjit for not just FINDING A BETTER SHOW. Yeah.

Sam said...

Chuckle! She is obviously someone you know if she comes up in your FB newsfeed - do you see her in real life? I know what you mean even without seeing the blog though - it aggravates me no end to see blogs that seem to be a complete vanity project with pretentions that the blogger is an authentic 'writer'. Its just a form of self-centredness and self-obsession! (Although maybe we all have to have a bit of that to blog...)

Lucy Benedict said...

Meeshie, it's like I WANT to be annoyed and have happily found the perfect way to achieve that. Stupidly masochistic. I even resent her for not blogging more often so I have fresh clickbait.

Yes, Sam, YES! Be honest about your motivation for blogging, and admit that yes, bloggers are a bit self-obsessed and this is a bit of egostroking.