I have spent a lot of time in bed this year. Between the scary early contractions and the c-section, I have been stranded with just my smartphone for entertainment for months. And it’s starting to wear on me. The internet is about clicks, not originality — if something works once, we must run it into the ground. Here are a few tricks I am sick of.
Fifty shades of shut up
Haven’t read it. Don’t want to read it. It’s a grown woman’s adolescent fantasies about another grown woman’s adolescent fantasies. And her stupid title is being applied to everything from food to how-to articles to professional discussions. Not even *that* profession. In fact, I’d be more understanding if the title was being ripped off to indicate some tie between the topic and kinky sex or abusive relationships or poor writing. But it’s not. It’s an attention-getting device, and a lazy one at that. Quit riding the coat tails of a fad and come up with a real title.
Natural vs synthetic
Natural is good, right? And synthetic is bad? The why is smoking an e-cigarette supposedly so much better than smoking tobacco? (Yes, I know the preferred term is “vaping.” It’s still smoking…you just aren’t lighting anything on fire.) I admit to tending to prefer natural and organic products to synthetic myself in many cases, but I think we take the dichotomy too far. Not everything that is natural is good for us, and not everything manmade is bad.
The Yellow Sub: Why Use One Title When You Can Have Two
I admit to falling for this trap in my master’s thesis. And it made me feel hip and clever. But that was nearly 20 years ago. The pithy title/subtitle construction is tired. Get a new gimmick. (Please see point 1 first, though.)
You’re doing everything wrong
No, I am not. Your way may be cooler, or more efficient, or how the thing was meant to be used, but my way works, too. Is the cupcake in my belly? Then I ate it properly. (Quite frankly, I don’t really even like icing. Half the time, I scrape it off and give it to my kid.)
And it is not a hack, for Pete’s sake. You are not a hacker. You have hacked nothing. Except those people who cut apart pants hangers to make chip clips, I guess.
Numbered lists as clickbait
I could have numbered this list, and put the number in the title. But the number of things in this list is irrelevant to the list itself, as it is irrelevant to most articles that use this hook. Do I fall for it? Sure. But when you see a full page of search results that differ only in the number of items in each list, the absurdity of this gimmick shines through. Is there a number that makes my list more or less authoritative? Or does it merely need a digit to gain credibility?
I know that eventually these tricks will fall out of fashion and be replaced (by equally irritating tricks, of course). Until then, I will just try to grit my teeth quietly.