If you're anything like me, you spend a good deal of your life these days clicking on links you encounter on Facebook and other social media platforms and then wondering things like "why am I looking at this list of cereal from the 80's" or "I never knew there could be this many pets in vases" or "Did I *actually* think this list of '20 Characteristics all Confident People Share' would include tips beyond what my next door neighbor could have thought of when he was in 8th grade?
As I read through an article today about 50 ways to lose weight that included such educational gems as "eat more veggies" and "lift weights"(seriously, these were actual tips) I realized the truth.
I am wasting my life.
You are probably wasting yours too. And seriously, guys, we have to stop it.
I have devised this handy list to help us differentiate between stuff we should be spending our time on and articles that are constructed solely to get clicks.
These five tips are iron-clad, Jean-Claude Van Damme-intense, surefire, tried-and-true ways to make sure you don't end up wasting any more of your life reading stuff you could have thought up yourself if you did a five minute brainstorming session or had a camera in a zoo.
1. If it is a numbered list do not click through.
This is the part where I explain the obvious truth behind the first number in my list, so I will do that now. Numbered lists are simple, clear and finite. They give a potential reader the illusion that their experience will be brief and controlled. Some websites are structured solely on lists because of their appeal to today's common reader. Also, it's kind of just a trend. A trend that if you aren't aware of, will suck hours and hours out of your life. So, please, if you see a numbered list, don't click through. Ever. I promise you have better things to do. You really, really don't need to see that list of TV characters without make-up on. I assure you.
2. If there is a photo with some kind of drawn-in circle or arrow as a thumbnail do not click through.
I'm kind of amazed this one works, but it really seems to. Take a picture--any picture--and then draw a circle with an arrow on it, and suddenly, whammo, it looks like there's a mystery there! So obviously we all must click through immediately to see the mysterious thing outlined in the photo, yes??
I can't wait to discover the mysterious thing featured in the random circle!
3. An article or title that starts with the word "This" is total crap. Do not click through.
Already know what I'm talking about? I'm sure you've seen "the formula." This [person, place or thing] encountered this [unusual/breathtaking/noteworthy thing] and now everything is different!
"This old man was just minding his business when his wheelchair made him a millionaire!!"
"This circus clown got huge muscles after eating an unusual plant!"
You get the idea. Avoid these articles. They are worthless. You would be better served playing five minutes of Candy Crush. Then at least you'd have a level up to show for your wasted time.
4. Any article that talks about a special trick, or a secret, or something that makes doctors or policemen or judges angry is complete crap. Do not click through.
Often these are seen with pictures of biceps the size of small trucks or teeth brighter than the sun or a huge wad of cash sitting on a computer desk. Keep on walking, friend! There is nothing useful here. I promise.
Just move along.
You know what? Let's cut to the chase:
5. Just stop it.
You have other things to do. It doesn't matter what an article boasts. It doesn't matter how compelling the picture looks, or who has posted it on their feed. You have better things to do. You came to Facebook for a reason--probably to catch up with friends. So do that. Or something else. Your kids want to play with you, or you have a homework assignment to do, or you have an actual Facebook friend on Facebook that you can message and make their day. Maybe you have a dissertation to write, or maybe you are working on your first novel, or maybe you have photos you could upload to Instagram so your friends and loved ones can get a fun glimpse into your life. Maybe you could go on a walk in the sunshine and breathe the scent of pine and freshly cut grass. Maybe you could bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Maybe you could listen to a song you love, except pay attention and really listen.
Don't waste any more time on bait-clicking. Your life is so much more important than that.
For the record, I am writing this to myself more than to anyone else. I've been known to waste gobs of time reading pointless stuff, and I'm just tired of it.
Seriously, let's just take a second to think, if this day were what we actually wanted it to be, what would we be doing. Let's breathe deeply, and really think. What can we use the next five minutes for? What would make life meaningful and bring you joy? What do you actually want to do right this minute--something that would make you really feel alive?
And now, go do it.
But before you do, SHARE THIS ARTICLE, BECAUSE HOW ELSE WOULD A LINK-BAIT ARTICLE EVER SURVIVE????!!!!!
Come on! You know you want to (appeal to camaraderie). No, but really, sharing this will help your friends, and could save them a lot of wasted time (appeal to altruism.) Plus if you don't, you will have horrible luck for seven days (appeal to fear.) Also, for every person who doesn't see this, five minutes of a child's birthday party is missed (appeal to guilt.) Last but not least, sharing this is the Godly thing to do (appeal to religion.) DO IT BELOW ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-)
*If you jumped to the end of this article upon reading that first sentence then you have innate link-bait-crap avoiding skills, because this article was as link-baity as they get! Good job! Now go, and click no more...