My relationship with the internet used to be innocent and carefree. A regular check of my Inbox, an uploaded snap to Instagram and a daily reading of the news were pretty much it. Thanks to spending most of my working day on a computer, it’s turned into something altogether more seedy. The news, Instagram and all those arts and culture sites have been joined by a darker force and it’s time to come clean: I am a sucker for click bait.
According to Urban Dictionary, that bastion of the modern lexicon, click bait is defined as an article designed to snare you with its title, luring you into clicking on it and thus boosting site hits and, in some cases, cash for advertisers. Sly moves by anyone’s standards.
It doesn’t always work, though. In my time as a click bait addict I’ve got wise to a few scams. Promise me disbelief, a melted heart or a blown mind and I promise to shun that trash by going nowhere near your shyster lies. Sorry, Internet. That time you promised to blow my mind with the opening of a banana only taught me that my mind is unlikely to be blown by the false promises you so easily churn out.
Instead, promise me morbidly fascinating rare diseases, medieval torture instruments or a two-headed kitten and I’ll be there. My personal click bait poison involves freakish beasts, weird science or the dark side of nature. If it’s likely to be stopped by a firewall or make you regret eating breakfast, I am likely to find it fascinating.
I first realised I had a problem when I woke up hungover one Sunday, bleary of eye and cloudy of head. Keen to be entertained without exerting myself, I reached for my iPad to indulge in the most mindless of all internet activities: Reading my Facebook Newsfeed.
The first thing to appear? An I Fucking Love Science article titled A Girl Left Her Contacts In For 6 Months & Amoebas Ate Her Eyeballs. Without a thought for my fragile state of mind I clicked on the article. I don’t know if it appealed to my life-long love of the horror genre, my keen interest in parasites and cannibals of the natural world, or my desire to be one step ahead of the game should I ever need contact lenses. What I do know is that I can’t unsee the contents of that story.
Being scarred for life by the stupidity of a young girl who shunned basic ocular hygiene in favour of wearing what I can only assume were those fashion lenses that are all the rage here in Asia (because how else would she have escaped the professional advice of an optician?) should have been enough for me to learn my lesson. But no. I still find myself being suckered in to every online horror show out there.
Boosting the stats for sites like Viral Nova in a moment of weakness is one thing (These 40 Mugshots Will Haunt Your Dreams For Years? Of course I’m checking that out!); boosting the ego of famous-for-having-a-huge-arse Kim Kardashian by clicking on that photo shoot for Paper magazine was a new low, even for me. Reeling from seedy disappointment in myself, I took to abstinance. Cold turkey. No more Korean plastic surgery disasters, murderous parastites of the insect world and similar ilk. Only legitimate, intellect-boosting news and current affairs.
And how am I faring? Well, this moring I read about how a Hungry Snake Picked the Wrong Dinner in the form of a giant centipede. Horrifyingly, the insect was eaten alive, so in a bid for freedom ate its way through the internal organs of the snake before bursting through its side, killing both its host and itself. So pretty badly, all told.
Better than that snake, though.