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What happened when I gave up clickbait for a week

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If you’re anything like me, you probably waste unthinkable amounts of time falling victim to the infamous clickbait scam.

It’s like an itch that needs to be scratched. My curiosity grows at these attention-grabbing headlines just to be met with disappointment as a ‘life-changing product’ turns out to be an ad for something less than useful or a bold claim turns out to be a complete over-exaggeration of the truth.

In a world of digital supremacy, clicks have become more and more valuable to those working in the media. So, all sorts of over-the-top claims are used in headlines to gain these clicks even if they don’t match up to the actual story being presented.

Like a lot of people, I was getting fed up with the disappointment that follows clickbait, so I took on the challenge of avoiding it for a week. Here’s how I got on.

The Withdrawal:

Okay, so withdrawal may be slightly dramatic, but I must admit it was hard to avoid the looming clickbait titles.

Whilst it isn’t always easy to tell which stories are clickbait, after years of clicking on these headlines I felt that I knew which ones to avoid.

Titles that appear to make a bold claim or assume a group opinion such as ‘All things … wish you knew’ or ‘everyone needs this item in their life’ were clear red flags. Some titles are less obvious, but I managed to steer clear.

Instead, stories with headlines that didn’t leave me guessing too much were often the best option.

Something I found mightily difficult was that this challenge involved not only news articles but social media too – something I use far too much.

It wasn’t until I actively tried to avoid clickbait headlines that I began to realise how common they were. Almost every few minutes online I would notice one be it in an ad, news story, YouTube post or more.

The Conclusion:

After a week of the clickbait ban, I noticed a few things.

Perhaps most obvious was the amount of time I saved. Typically, I would spend hours scrolling through articles or watching YouTube videos that use clickbait titles to reel me in. However, without this, I saved much more time and I found myself less glued to my phone or laptop.

My screen time had even decreased by an impressive 68 per cent.

Another thing I noticed was that by the end I started to receive fewer clickbait titles in my recommended sections online, so the avoidance became easier as the week went on.

This challenge also enabled me to decipher between quality content and clickbait much more easily, meaning that the content I was reading was much more valuable.

This also helped avoid miscommunication. Like others, I don’t always read to the end of all news articles. This can pose a problem when it comes to clickbait stories as some don’t reveal the facts behind the story until the end. Therefore, if a title or opening lines make a claim which doesn’t match the actual story then often people assume it is true if they don’t read to the end.

Therefore, by avoiding clickbait altogether I avoided interpreting stories incorrectly and passing misleading messages on to others.

Overall, this challenge had its benefits and highlighted the significance that clickbait plays in my daily life. I will likely reduce the number of clickbait titles that I click on as a result.

Will I be able to avoid every clickbait title in the future? Probably not, but I have a rough idea of which ones to steer clear of to avoid disappointment. 

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