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The Single Most Annoying Trick People use To Get Your Attention

February 14, 2014

woman-butt-fitWhat’s the single most annoying trick that people do to get your attention? Headlines like this one. Especially if they’re coupled with photos like this one, which, by the way, has nothing whatsoever to do with what I intend to write about. It’s just a woman’s butt, which is the most surefire way to get people to click on a link. Especially connected with declarations and promises.

But the larger question is why it matters. Who cares?

I do. Maybe more than I should. Certainly more than is good for my mental health right now. But click-bait is killing  content quality. And there’s plenty of blame to go around.

First, let me say that I am a member of a very privileged class of writers and editors online. I get paid. The site for which I both write and edit – which means I both curate and create content for them – pays better than the vast majority of sites out there. Which is to say that it pays at all. Last time I checked our Alexa ratings, we were bigger than Oprah and Politico, which is huge. And because of that, we have the luxury of revenue, and the luxury of paying editors, and some writers. Which is more than most sites can say. I’ve had stories run on major sites with big names and bigger traffic, never been paid by them. Like many writers, I just like seeing my stuff out there, and since I’d write anyway, it is no “real” skin off my back.

Good Vibrations used to pay me in sex toys, which was fun, in theory at least; I still haven’t cashed in my credit.

However, my biggest pay-day comes in letters from people who tell me that I have changed / saved / impacted their life. I tend to write about hard things. Things like rape and alcoholism and depression and raising kids and body image and sexuality. Things that change lives, and hearts, and minds. But that will never drive as much traffic, and revenue, as an Amazing Video Of This Shocking Thing You Won’t Believe.

Who cares? Why does it matter?

I care. Because most writers are paid for clicks. So, that amazing good fortune I have to get paid for what I do? For the last 4 months of work, I will get paid $468. I’ll spare you all the metrics, but after my posts hit a certain number (a big one, one that is a big ego-boost to hit, but also a huge barrier to payment) I get, I think, 50 cents for every 1,000 pageviews. (Oh, $150 of that was for writing an article specifically for an advertiser, so it was fee-for-service. Which makes my numbers even worse, really.)

So, you can see how a viral video that is simply cut-and-pasted from some fucking link farm and gets millions of views, might present a problem for people who are working hard to create meaningful content that changes lives. They’re the mean girl of the content cafeteria.

But hey, who cares if they get all the revenue, fair’s fair, it’s a free-market. And, generally, you’ll find no bigger supporter of the free-market than me. But, cash for content is a very limited resource. Ultimately, sites will do anything necessary to get the clicks and the cash that they bring in.

They’ll write UpWorthy style headlines that promise you something they don’t deliver. They’ll use their editorial resources to chase clicks rather than quality content. And the people who create quality content will give up, unless they have the financial luxury to keep going for free, and the emotional fortitude to watch idiots reap the rewards for shitty content while they make nothing.

All those sites, UpWorthy, BoredPanda, ViralNova and the like…..  They’re bad news. In addition to accelerating the race to the bottom in terms of quality content, they take – and profit – from the views of content that they not only didn’t create, but that stops views from adding up on sites like YouTube, where content creators DO get paid for views.

So if someone posts a video on YouTube and it gets lots of views, that person gets paid. If those views are happening on a link farm instead, that link-farm gets paid.

Don’t get me wrong, I love cute cat videos. Those photos of the little boy sleeping with his puppy slayed me, and I still return to it when I’m blue. But I do not want to live in a world in which that’s the only content available, because it’s what gets clicks, and makes money – for both sites and the people who post it.

So who drives this? The dynamic duo of consumers and advertisers, of course. The same people who drive all commerce. And it’s impossible, really, to say which comes first; the crap people sell or the people who want to buy crap. Which came first, our belief that women needed to be prettier, which means make-up, or someone telling us we need make-up to be pretty? It doesn’t even matter anymore, it’s all the same big clusterfuck, and until we stop buying the myths, and the product, we’re gonna be stuck in this world. Content is no different.

Advertising agencies buy eyeballs for their clients. They do it according to what’s called a CPM, which is the cost to reach 1,000 pairs of eyeballs. The most expensive CPMs are print magazines, because it actually costs a hell of a lot of money to buy the raw materials, produce and then ship the thing. Newspapers are less because all of that is less costly. Online? That was the golden payoff for advertisers, it costs next to nothing to produce a web site, so really, ALL you are paying for is those eyeballs, not paper, ink, shipping, and increasingly not talent or content. Just eyeballs.

That is why print media started dying off. And look, I’m all for getting rid of paper and embracing new technology, I think that’s a good thing. But when the content itself is disappearing, and in its place we’re getting viral videos and online outrage about viral videos, well, it’s a pretty sorry state of affairs. But it’s pretty much free, and it attracts eyeballs, and eyeballs can be sold.

The only thing that ad buyers want to see is how many eyeballs they can reach. So if a stupid viral video can capture millions of eyeballs, but a great article on depression can only get thousands, guess which one the web site is going to try to produce more of? And it can be the same viral video that is already on every damn link farm site out there.

And guess who gets paid more, the person who posts the tired old viral video, or the person who worked really hard to write an excellent article. It’s hard to be inspired to work in that environment. Or to think optimistically about what it promises.

On the one hand, it’s easy to say “hey, that pays the rent for the great articles on depression and stuff.” Which is true. But it also rewards the person who posted the video far more than the person who wrote the article. And I’ve heard people say, “hey, these are the people who are creating the posts that drive in the money, they deserve to be paid more.”And that’s where I get really sad.

Sure, the cash is the fuel that feeds the engine of the larger train. But that train still isn’t running on its own. Someone has to drive it, the cars have to be hooked together, tracks put in place, fuel shoveled and all those other seats need to be filled in order for it to be worth running the train at all. By just rewarding the guy who dumps in the coal, you are missing the point entirely. You are LITERALLY not valuing everything else that goes into making the train run, not to mention giving it a reason to run. It’s valuing the fuel, but nothing else about the train, or its passengers.

But that’s the system we have. Because most sites, like most advertisers, pay by the click. We reward clicks, not quality. And that totally deincentivizes (and insults) content creators.

But it seems like such a great metaphor for our culture. Just give me more. More stuff. More clicks. More attention. Ignore the substance, look at the bling.

And even good sites get high on the viral hits, it’s easy, and natural, to want another hit. And you know what happens when you’re just chasing the next hit, right….. Nothing good.

So ya. I’m in a funk. I am super proud of the work that I do, the things I write, the people I reach. Most days, I go to bed proud that I am making the world a better place.

Look, I don’t want the videos to go away. That “how to peel a pomegranate video” changed my life. And sometimes, a fat cat playing “hide in the box” is what we need. But we need to be educated consumers. These things need to be our internet dessert, not our main course. And both publishers and advertisers need to get real about how traffic numbers indicate user relationship with a media property and value them differently. Because, realistically speaking, they are very different. And an ad on a site – or piece of content – with a smaller audience but deeper connection IS going to be much more targeted and impactful.

We all have to get more excited about relationships and meaning than numbers. We’re all starting to sound like PUAs. “Dude, I got 4 million hits!” Even the language we use to talk about it is that of drug-users and PUAs.  “I’d hit that.” “I need more hits.” The relationship and the meaning is just getting lost, or taking a second seat, it’s the hopeful bi-product of another hit, but if it doesn’t happen, at least we have a hit we can sell to an ad-pusher.

And I can’t pretend that it doesn’t piss me off that I will never be rewarded for the work and the research as well as someone who posts videos of Justin Bieber’s DUI arrest. But I won’t become one of those people. I just won’t.

What can you do? I wish I could tell you to stop clicking on the links. But let me just give you a cautionary tale…. Have you seen the movie Idiocracy? I don’t necessarily recommend it because it isn’t that great, but it is a look at what happens when, hundreds of years in the future, our habits reduce our life to the rhetorical end of the lazy, greedy and stupid spectrum. In this dystopian world, the only show left on TV is one called Ouch My Balls. In which an endless parade of morons do stupid things that wind up racking them in balls.

In the future, they predict, that will be all we have, because it’s all people watched, and it’s what advertisers would pay for. That future is online now.

That’s how I feel about the direction our media is heading. We are rewarding the stupid, lazy and surprising spectacle. Not wanting to read, or even consume anything that doesn’t give us an emotional response in less than 20 seconds. Those are the bits of content that are getting rewarded with cash. And cash is what we value.

Am I bitter? I’m getting there. And if you know me, that’s a hell of a statement. But it’s happening.

Ouch, my boobs.

_________

* I did not initially point out that I did not work full-time writing and editing, which I totally should have pointed out. It is a freelance gig, and the hours I worked varied due to many factors, most of which come down to when I felt like it. I didn’t mention that because the metrics I was discussing were clicks, not hours, so it slipped my mind and I regret that. I would also like to re-emphasize that I felt honored and privileged, and was lucky to get paid at all, because that is incredibly unusual.  I could have and should have made it clearer.

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89 Comments leave one →
  1. Molly Dee permalink
    February 15, 2014 10:03 am

    Don’t despair. There are plenty of people who like original, thoughtful, researched content. You’re one of the smart and lucky ones. I like your work.

  2. Jalin permalink
    February 15, 2014 12:24 pm

    Who are you?? I thought for sure I would see another video on how to make my ass look 12 again. Then I am reading, and…ouch…I am thinking! That is the root of much of this. Some people dont want to think, they want to be told. They want to follow Alice down the rabbit hole of viral videos. I am also guilty, spending more hours then I should clicking one link to the next of mind numbing videos. Still wonder why the lingo is so close to that of drug users? 🙂 THANK YOU for educating those like me who had no idea. I know the money would be fantastic, but take comfort in the fact that you can inspire thought and make a difference. That is powerful! You also made a new fan. I look forward to more.

  3. February 15, 2014 7:21 pm

    The sad thing is, those advertisers pay for my eyeballs and I never NEVER click on the ads. NEVER!
    I worked on the internet before they called it that (early 80s…yes, really) and thought a technology that would show me only the ads *I* want to see was a cool thing. Now I think it’s creepy when every site I look at is selling me whatever I googled yesterday.
    I’ve also worked in advertising and tried so hard to create fresh, smart ads. Talk about a waste of time.
    Then I wound up in publishing. Do I need to tell you how THAT turned out? So yeah, I blog, and get that jolt of endorphins when my stats go up. Because otherwise I’m just writing a diary…
    I wish I had an answer. Or a job.

  4. February 15, 2014 7:51 pm

    An excellent post. As a content creator myself – one who has avoided click-bait headlines like the plague and who refuses to insult my audience with such ploys – I feel your pain, very deeply, and thank you for this excellent article.

    As for the well-intended responses, it’s all well and good to get a warm fuzzy for helping people – and I do – or for maintaining your integrity…but in today’s world, at least in this country, integrity doesn’t pay the rent.

  5. February 15, 2014 11:13 pm

    Actually, when I read this my theory concerning my student’s results versus the use of social medias, internet and computer games, feels like a real theory… The school results sink as the level of children in school using social medias, internet and computer games, rises. So in my opinion the internet is creating more and more stupidity 😉
    Adolf Hitler once said: “It’s good for the rulers that the people aren’t thinking” and sadly we are walking down that lane again…youtube is more interesting than what the teacher is saying or trying to show. Sad but true….

  6. February 19, 2014 9:17 am

    Loved this, content is what I search for but never seem to find. I do see the Bieber and lots of strange pictures and videos. Sometimes it’s fun but it’s nice to read something real. Thank you.

  7. February 19, 2014 9:19 am

    Reblogged this on Few Shenanigans and commented:
    This has not much to do with the general content of my posts (wait… I only have a handful of posts–Do I actually have a theme going yet? ^_-)

    I’m reposting this mostly for the sheer irony of these beautifully expressed frustrations being freshly pressed (the equivalent of going viral in the wordpress community). I find it difficult to resist truly delicious irony.

  8. February 19, 2014 9:34 am

    Yes, yes, yes.

    And I appreciate that this post was so long. Shorter gets more clicks.

  9. February 19, 2014 9:51 am

    Idiocracy was a pretty bad movie, but it’s one I find myself referencing all the time…which might actually make it a great movie? Either way, I feel your pain; seeing utter b.s. get a million likes is disheartening. Keep the faith.

  10. February 19, 2014 9:57 am

    Your graphic definitely got my attention! Interesting piece!

  11. February 19, 2014 10:01 am

    I really like this. As a blogger who posts original and thoughtful (At least I think so!) content daily, I’ve been frustrated by friends who have blogs which get thousands of hits a day by just writing about The Bachelor’s last episode or something equally inconsequential. It’s really hard to not be frustrated. I also love that you’re bringing to light the “internet drug” that is virality. I find myself clicking Buzzfeed link after Buzzfeed link for literally no reason. And I too get extremely annoyed by Upworthy’s empty headlines. Thank you for making me think today.

    -Taylor
    http://tayloryates.wordpress.com

  12. Alyssa Royse permalink*
    February 19, 2014 10:09 am

    I will say that BuzzFeed does a really good job of making their content original and thoughtful. I’m a huge BuzzFeed fan, actually. They have great writers and are actually thinking about stuff a lot. What I HATE are all the viral click-bait sites, and those are making it hard for really good sites to stay true to their content and mission, because advertisers are chasing clicks.

    It’s also really delusional for advertisers to chase “uniques,” as the gold-standard. Yet unique views are coveted, so “new viewers” who come in to a site to see something viral and shocking are worth more than return visitors who now and trust a brand. It’s the logical equivalent of some dude on the street yelling “yo, you should buy this,” versus having a friend who you trust suggest that you try something. It’s just backwards. And it hurts everyone. We need to work on forming relationships, and then ideas – including ideas abut products – spread. (I am so glad I no longer work in advertising / media, but damn, I really wish I still worked in advertising / media so I could help change it, but….. Ah. Conundrum.)

  13. February 19, 2014 10:12 am

    Reblogged this on cadingwall and commented:
    Reblog of someone with something important and relevant to say for once, not like my philosophical discussions and reviews

  14. February 19, 2014 10:30 am

    Thank you for this insight, it’s so helpful. I am finishing up my book now, yet unpublished of course and I am new to the blogging world. I am finding this need to maintain this constant battle of wanting to get my story out because it is important and helps others and trusting that it will reach people it needs to. It is so hard to not get caught up in the views and shares though. And as a new writer I would love any feedback you have for me on my blog, thank you! http://www.everupward.org. Justine

  15. February 19, 2014 10:51 am

    Content is worth far more than shock value. Those videos, articles, etc are like eating chocolate. It’s nice for a treat, but too much and you’ll suffer for it.

  16. P Bobby permalink
    February 19, 2014 10:56 am

    I don’t think papers/mags/books are dead. Indeed, as the internet becomes more and more a culture medium for things going viral, print may make a come-back of sorts: and, it’s so much easier on the eyes. We may even start to see restrictions on internet usage as ‘bottlenecks’ in bandwidth and more and more expensive ISPs slowly force some offline. And there will always be demand for quality. But I take your point, atm it’s pretty much “click on a bum, any bum”.

  17. February 19, 2014 11:23 am

    Hi Alyssa, you are not alone. Shakespeare himself realized that to get paid, one needs to cultivate hits, and the combination of weaving both that need and his observations of human nature, are what make his works universal today…

    If there is an answer… it’s lurking somewhere in the blend…. 🙂 good luck.

  18. February 19, 2014 12:14 pm

    Like this post? haha jk 🙂

  19. Lokyra Stone permalink
    February 19, 2014 12:20 pm

    Reblogged this on lokyrastone.

  20. February 19, 2014 12:21 pm

    Thanks for writing this!
    “Sure, the cash is the fuel that feeds the engine of the larger train. But that train still isn’t running on its own. Someone has to drive it, the cars have to be hooked together, tracks put in place, fuel shoveled and all those other seats need to be filled in order for it to be worth running the train at all. By just rewarding the guy who dumps in the coal, you are missing the point entirely. You are LITERALLY not valuing everything else that goes into making the train run, not to mention giving it a reason to run. It’s valuing the fuel, but nothing else about the train, or its passengers.”
    I totally agree with you and I’m sure you still reach people whose eyeballs are caught by original, creative content about hard things. Evidently, this post is featured on Freshly Pressed and I’m just done clicking the like button.
    Hope you have a good day!

  21. February 19, 2014 1:49 pm

    Individuals seem OK, usually. It’s when you lump them together as a mass the IQ drops quickly and the “man chasing dog” video gets on the news. A terrifying vision of the future, lots of dystopian ideas play out if you push this trend to the limit and I also find it scary that we have got so low so quickly.

    Jim

  22. February 19, 2014 1:49 pm

    Thanks for this post. I’m interested in this from the perspective of someone wondering how to get good content through the noise of what you call “dessert.” It’s a crazy time we’re living in–so much change, so fast.

  23. February 19, 2014 3:04 pm

    The paradox of the Internet: Never before has information been more easily available, yet this wealth of information has made made us gravitate towards content that’s easily accessible and superficial…

    I found your post interesting and well written, and you made many very good points that I agree with. However, I’m not quite sure if it’s a such good idea to get rid of paper altogether. To a certain degree I believe in the old(?) adage, “the medium is the message”… 😉

    There have been studies demonstrating that paper is a superiour medium for reading comprehension compared to screens, so I think we’ll definitively lose something if old fashioned books and magazines are replaced by online equivalents.

    See for instance this study: http://sciencenordic.com/paper-beats-computer-screens

    – Kind Regards,
    K.O.B

  24. Alyssa Royse permalink*
    February 19, 2014 3:18 pm

    Maybe I should clarify my statement about paper. I am a book worm, and I still only read books on paper. I can’t stand the idea of not turning pages, smelling their musk, it is such an intimate and glorious experience. But for things that are more disposable, like newspapers and magazines, for the most part, I see those as more wasteful. A lifetime ago when I was starting a magazine, that I have every intent of printing on paper, I met with the paper distributor and talked about how much paper we would be using, and how much ink. Which led to discussion of how much waste their was from trimmed pages etc. Right after that I went to a meeting with advertisers, and we talked about CPMs, which inevitably led to looking at numbers for things like dead copies – those that we know will go unsold and just get their covers cut off and tossed. It is such a waste. Incredible volumes of garbage. And I don’t think that serves anyone.

    I decided to start a digital magazine instead. I was probably a decade ahead of my time. Advertisers didn’t know what to do with that. I could offer them the same design and content as a print publication, the same subscriber relationship, but no environmental waste. But this was the beginning of Google Ads etc… and the CPM for what would be analogous to a print publication (with carefully created content and design) discounted for web still couldn’t compete with an inline AdWord style ad. THAT should have been the perfect balance of excellent content, environmental ethics and a perfectly crafted ad vehicle.

    I am fine with seeing most magazines and newspapers go online. We have plenty of ways to deliver up-to-the-minute quality content to readers without the environmental waste. It enables all manner of personalization and timely delivery of things that matter to people, both content and ads.

    But nothing will replace books, or art magazines or many things. I future that is well-balanced in both seems ideal. But I doubt the economy is there to support it. A lot of it is advertising, still. The whole paradigm needs to be re-built around relationships and content-pairing. And I don’t know how long people will be willing to read books on paper, which are expensive and take up a lot of space. I’m in it for the long-haul, and hope there will still be books for me to buy for years to come.

  25. February 19, 2014 3:28 pm

    I feel like that all the time. There are so many important moments in that terrible movie.

  26. February 19, 2014 3:40 pm

    I’m with you all the way. I took the last month off from blogging because my own thinking was making me feel so alone. I don’t think we will be able to stop the mindlessness, but we might be able to find a way to continue caring about content. I tell you , I absolutely go bonkers when I meet someone who demonstrates a capacity to think on their blog. Original thought is priceless is this virtual domain. Priceless and very, very Dangerous. Regurgitating the outrage of the day isn’t exactly thinking, not in my book, but it does give off the appearance of concern for something. Thanks for a great post.

  27. razorrahmon permalink
    February 19, 2014 4:24 pm

    Well fret not. Click bait is just a fad which is slowly dying off. There are a huge number of people who go online for proper meaningful content and thats where you are serving the real purpose. And like u said, there is too much hoo haa on clicks and views and many of those 1000s of views could also be bought online. Many advertisers do it to get their videos on the trending list. I have stopped clicking on those crappy click bait headlines a long time back. To me they are just a “get a ripped 6 pack ab in 30 days” kinda headline.

  28. Toby Doncaster permalink
    February 19, 2014 5:03 pm

    I quite agree! and the lady’s butt is quite nice…

  29. February 19, 2014 5:15 pm

    I liked your points about the devaluation of certain contents, and how reposting sites skew the profits to themselves. It paints a sobering picture of the media.. But it struck me that you ordered massive amounts of content into inflexible categories of worthiness. I hate UpWorthy’s click baiting as much as anyone. Occasionally it wastes my time . But other times it has educated me. By introducing me to artists or showing me a major perspective on a current event.This is not what I would consider a ” race to the bottom in terms of quality content,” I call it relevant content to my life and my wants… sometimes. I don’t think I would agree with your criteria for what makes content “quality”. For one thing your measure of quality sounds biased towards the interests of an educated middle class with academic or professional sensibility. And it’s a fine view, but it’s not the only useful one. I’ll take your dessert and have it as my dinner.

  30. February 19, 2014 5:41 pm

    I love this. My husband & I discuss stuff like this frequently. It reminds me of the animated movie Wall-E, I can see us ending up like that. Thanks for sharing, keep up the great work! 🙂

  31. February 19, 2014 5:50 pm

    Isn’t this basically just a post about selling your soul, or not? Or how society has already sold its soul? Or that society, as a collective, organic organism, never really had a soul to begin with? Or that it did have a soul that has slowly but surely been manipulated and thus eradicated by the structures the rich Big Shots have made to nurture this profitable shit storm? But like you said, who cares? It is what it is, and what it is is a bit dreary.

    It’s like this for everything in our world. Quick, catchy titles, buzzwords, and empty slogans sell. It’s (this social world is) a cesspool of turds wrapped up in perfume-scented glitter. Beautiful smelling, sparkling, glamorous turds. Stay true, be you, and do all the stuff that you think you should do. (Dr Seuss = my idol.)

    I like you’re honest tone. I shall, much like the Schwarz, be back.

  32. February 19, 2014 6:04 pm

    Lovely read. I’m a writer too. Know exactly what you mean.

  33. basalihu5 permalink
    February 19, 2014 6:16 pm

    People need to post more articles like this. And I think you should have a fat pay. Lol. But anyway I think you are an outright rep of the few ppl left with real brains(& sincere emo)

  34. Alyssa Royse permalink*
    February 19, 2014 6:25 pm

    Well, no, that’s not what I said. I’m pretty sure I said that those things have value, but when they are the only thing that advertisers will pay for, they become a predator to more in-depth content. It needs to be a balanced diet. And we need to figure out what will happen if it becomes impossible for publication to pay for investigative and contemplative content as opposed to the free-hits of people’s uploaded mobile video content. There is nothing wrong with killing-time by entertaining yourself with internet fluff. I do it too. (As I said in the piece.) But if that becomes the only thing that we value…. well, “Ouch my boobs.”

  35. February 19, 2014 7:15 pm

    I think you are right that we should be concerned about the media’s continued move away from paying creators for investigative, in-depth content. But I think the dinner versus dessert model has some problems.

    Because the sites you talked about sometimes do provide my own “dinner” content.
    And anyway, Is something a “dinner” content because it had in-depth investigative professionalism go into its making, with a mark of guarantee for quality? Or is it dinner because of what it shows us, the insights it gives, the positive behaviour it stimulates?

    If we really were just talking about cats and fluff I’d be with you. But the content provided by the share sites is not so homogeneous as that. Again, i share your concern about the fading chances to fund investigative or in-depth content. But I don’t agree with the extent you attribute dinner-ness to the domains of investigative writing and dessert-ness to entertainment or other content shared by share sites.

    Anyway, this is very interesting. Thank you for taking the time to reply. I look forward to reading more of your work 🙂

  36. February 19, 2014 7:26 pm

    I love this. My blogs consist of a Doctor Who fan site and a “real” blog where I try to produce real content (even though my writing isn’t that great). Guess which one gets more clicks. But I do them both for free because I love them, and I’m completely aware that I simply wouldn’t get paid to do either. In the meantime, I carry on a full time office job to pay the bills. Personally, I find it depressing that people don’t want to read about anything educational anymore. Don’t stop what you’re doing, no matter how tough it gets.

  37. February 19, 2014 7:47 pm

    I work in online media and could not agree more. The easy access and addiction to metrics is more of a threat to quality journalism than the transition to digital platforms ever was. Also, I would pay you for this in money if I could, but unfortunately can only afford likes and retweets.

  38. February 19, 2014 8:00 pm

    Great post!

  39. February 19, 2014 8:17 pm

    Thank you for such a well written and explanatory article. The roots of the degradation of society you’re noticing lie deeply embedded in the conscious of the individual. Man, mostly, is fixed in his purposelessness. When people gather somewhere (the internet) without any true direction they are easily swayed toward the path of least resistance. Far easier to view than to read, simpler to gaze than to ponder, the man without purpose is drawn to that which satisfies his most basic momentary needs.

    It is the man who possesses a purpose, unflinching or even one in the early stages of development, who is willing to sacrifice his desire for the momentary pleasure brought on by Clicking Here Now! in order to locate that which makes him more of what he yearns to become.

    An empty mind is easily filled. A mind rooted in purpose is not easily lured by that which shines, for he understands that the most invaluable things require a great deal of shining to attract anyone.

    http://underlyingstrength.com/

  40. February 19, 2014 8:42 pm

    Thank you for an excellent post, and it is very encouraging to know that quality content writers like yourself are still out there.

  41. February 19, 2014 8:47 pm

    Nice one… 😉

  42. February 19, 2014 9:26 pm

    I keep hearing that if you write great content then you’ll get readers. Seems like, as you’ve pointed out, that the odds are stacked against anyone who writes thoughtful, quality content. I have to believe that eventually many people will tire of the lists and tricks and gravitate toward things with substance and meaning. Whether such content will generate income seems less likely. Thank you for a thoughtful and compelling post. Great writing, great examples.

  43. February 19, 2014 10:01 pm

    Love a good rant and oh! so well written. It does seem the almighty ‘Click’ is the ticket to what is now known as success. I always regarded success as doing something you love and providing a service that others need. Alluvial knowledge has taken hold and it is rare that anyone drills deep enough to fully understand much now. This is the way of the world and it will not retreat, so strap yourself in for a wild ride. Fire up, tell us in your writings and journals how it feels and your audience will thank you. I know I was pleased to read it. B

  44. February 19, 2014 11:12 pm

    Damn you! The first post of yours I read and all my hopes for my writing with any kind of purpose are destroyed! Ok, well not really.. and that is because I am so noobish at this that I don’t know what I don’t know and will keep writing until I get bored I guess.

    I was hoping to figure out if I was good enough (or could become so) to make money at this game.. you seem to have figured that out and I envy you for it. I also envy you (now) for your writing style and skill. I loved this post and I felt as though as I was reading it, we were having a conversation.. and THAT is exactly how I try to write in my goofy stuff.

    Thank you for being out there for me to find.. ? 🙂

  45. Bernadette permalink
    February 19, 2014 11:21 pm

    Well, hon… you just used a problem as a solution and then called out the problem. How did I end up clicking on this? There you go.

  46. February 19, 2014 11:29 pm

    Reblogged this on anonymouslynotknown.

  47. February 19, 2014 11:48 pm

    I liked this post and enjoyed reading the comments as well. Since I am an old fuddy-duddy it is all quite fascinating to me. Am I a content-creator? Wow! I thought I was writing about ideas that are interesting to me and the handful of people out there who want to think about them and had never even thought about this clicks business. Dearie, dearie me.

    I agree with your point about the kittens and the puppies. And I am absolutely fascinated by the phenomenon of blogs talking about depression. Something wildly inappropriate about the vision of someone finding help behind the flickering screen when they could be out there doing something, like exercise for example.

    Now let’s see what else you have written…

  48. February 20, 2014 1:15 am

    Great Post.. it’s opened my mind about what really is and going to happen… Keep doing the great job, I’m sure as long as you have a sincere intention, you’ll get a pay off eventually…

  49. February 20, 2014 1:51 am

    Reblogged this on perk2911.

  50. RalfMC permalink
    February 20, 2014 3:01 am

    Luckily, with the free market and all, creators of quality content can of course use the best strategy there is to get people to want their content, whatever that strategy may be.

    There is no reason why quality content should have headlines that appeal to no one. Getting people to notice particular content is completely independent from the quality, as this article clearly shows!

  51. February 20, 2014 3:04 am

    Reblogged this on adesayo_israel and commented:
    Very annoying tinz

  52. lauradaltry permalink
    February 20, 2014 3:17 am

    Reblogged this on Laura Daltry's Imagination Blog.

  53. February 20, 2014 4:37 am

    This is so brilliant. I’m guilty of falling prey to click bait all the time. And I recently shared my frustrations with someone about my posts not getting the attention they deserve. You put so much effort into something. You wish people would take notice. But they’re too busy reading about something completely trivial, or a lesser quality — and very brief– post.

    Thanks for saying what I’m feeling.

  54. February 20, 2014 4:47 am

    A thought provoking post!

  55. February 20, 2014 4:53 am

    Very much agree with you. I have never clicked on an internet advert and don’t think anyone I know does either. I don’t know who these ‘eyeballs’ are who are being targeted but perhaps if there are fewer adverts on things that I actually want to read then at least my experience will be better!

  56. February 20, 2014 7:29 am

    Nice piece. Held my attention. Ian x

  57. February 20, 2014 9:16 am

    Reblogged this on touchdownohio and commented:
    truth for it’s own sake

  58. February 20, 2014 9:47 am

    This is such an awesome article. I have never thought about these things on the net like this. I’ve always been pissed when bad movies with predictable plot lines and which don’t make much sense earn millions. I didn’t realize that the industry of stupidity is just as bad on-line. Thanks for opening my eyes to this. I will be more thoughtful what I use my ‘eyeballs’ for from now on. One thing’s for sure, your blog’s so getting another visit from my eyeballs.

  59. February 20, 2014 9:52 am

    Reblogged this on There Was A Crooked Man and commented:
    What are you reading on the internet right now? What are you watching? Looking at? Are you sure it’s worth your time? Read this blogger’s article about how this big, bad, Justin Beiber-obsessed world wide web affects our capacity for good content.

  60. faerylandmom permalink
    February 20, 2014 10:19 am

    This. This is exactly why I only write for myself. I don’t see a lot of point in even trying to get paid, because what I write isn’t what many want to read, beside my own small circle of mostly real life acquaintances.

    Besides – I don’t even know if my content is worth it, honestly.

  61. February 20, 2014 5:17 pm

    “The New Yorker” versus “The Daily Beast” — content versus headline. Unfortunately, it seems the reading public these days suffers from ADHD thanks, in part, to Facebook, Twitter, texting, etc.. Give me the information, make it quick, and it better be entertaining. When I first started posting, I did so sans any photo/image. Of course, everything written about blogs capturing an audience recommended visuals. So, I added visuals. Then, I spent as much time trying to find a funny image as I did writing content. Then I really fell off a cliff; I started writing content for the images and evolved into an image/caption post. So I stopped. I will now return minus any images, except those only the reader can imagine. Congratulations!

  62. February 20, 2014 7:55 pm

    This is probably the first time I’ve felt genuinely glad that I DID get sucked in by a misleading title. Well done!

  63. nerdycanuck permalink
    February 20, 2014 7:58 pm

    Look forward to more posts:)

  64. February 20, 2014 10:56 pm

    I’m a print journalist who has survived a couple of rounds of layoffs. Now the company I work for is actually planning to pick up the territories we no longer cover (because we jettisoned people who created content like sandbags) with unpaid community bloggers. It’s so transparent: They think content — vetted, researched content that is organized and reported by professionals — has no value. HuffPo doesn’t pay the vast majority of the content writers produce. I’m telling college journalism majors to avoid unpaid internships and writing for free.

  65. February 20, 2014 11:05 pm

    Vincent, I work for a daily paper. I got a camera for Christmas and began playing with it, learning how to shoot portraits and action shots. I was really surprised that, in spite of how readily my photographs were published, the higher-ups were super resistant to reimbursing me for a $16 memory card reader and a $99 dropbox pro upgrade. High-resolution digital images eat up a LOT of storage space. Let’s review: I acquired a camera and lens kit that cost $1,000 retail. I train myself to shoot using the owner’s manual, a DVD about photography basics and a number of online tools. My editor seemed concerned about the stress a request for $135 might have on our expense budget. There’s been a lot of encouragement for reporters to diversify their content production skills; No problem with wanting to develop your people. But, goodness, we’re in a growing market and there’s a study going on to launch a new product in a new market. Surely they can pay for card readers, batteries, tripods and monopods, right? Right?

  66. February 20, 2014 11:17 pm

    Alyssa, I agree. It really looks as if serious content generators, like newspapers and journals, are going out of business. And readers comfort themselves thinking that the same intensive investigative enterprise journalism will pop up on the net for free. But what really seems to be happening is that important, relevant content is disappearing as journalists get laid off. One vetted, thorough, well-written article is posted from a huge daily with some editorial budget left. The rest are pingbacks to that one long-form article or commentary by step-and-fetch partisan types who cheer-lead for that one ideological solution they believe in. Everything else? Click-bait slideshows about what actress has aged badly.

  67. February 21, 2014 12:30 am

    Great post, you could have added a few links to cats.

  68. February 21, 2014 1:49 am

    Reblogged this on mycomplexlittlemind.

  69. February 21, 2014 7:17 am

    Reblogged this on Writing, Whining, and Wit and commented:
    Reflections on fads and how they impact the pursuit of quality

  70. February 21, 2014 11:58 am

    Great article!
    Congrats on gettin’ pressed!!

  71. February 21, 2014 4:55 pm

    Reblogged this on Write Here Write Now and commented:
    Great post relating to content in your writing.

  72. February 22, 2014 5:55 am

    I learned something.

  73. February 23, 2014 12:33 am

    Just came to defend Idiocracy, which I feel is in no way a bad movie. But I agree that there were very important moments.

  74. February 23, 2014 3:36 am

    Reblogged this on bifalo.

  75. February 23, 2014 3:39 am

    Reblogged this on Bookmarks Online and commented:
    Nuce one

  76. betternotbroken permalink
    February 23, 2014 4:11 pm

    Are you really paying attention? This is a test, call it scientific research if you will. At any rate, congrats on getting Freshly Pressed. I have actually tired of falling for misleading click bait so have hope for the future Alyssa. (and yet I clicked here) Still, have hope, I am actually pleasantly surprises when I find so many people reading, thinking and writing well online. Thanks for a great post.

  77. February 23, 2014 9:00 pm

    Sing it, sister. I spent 30 years in editing and publishing before retiring 15 years ago, and I think I got out just in time. Not soon enough to avoid being bitter, though. And sad, so terribly sad, to see the public and our media dragging each other down to the lowest common denominator.

  78. A Regeneration Nation permalink
    February 24, 2014 4:26 am

    I think we all have these dark moments/weeks/months lol but, most of us usually come out of the funk hitting a bit harder. Sometimes it does seen like the dumb asses are racking it all in but, just like the old adage says – the bigger they are the harder they fall. Western society loves to shop true but, there are many out there & the numbers are growing, that prefer good content and transparency from those we interact with. There are those out there that have great content but have learned how to optimize their monetization through multiple streams. My favorite one is #smartpassiveincomewithpatflynn (I always try to tag but not sure what I’m doing yet lol). Anyway, kick up a fuss, scream, complain, accept your funk and when it’s done we’ll see you out here “fighting” again I am sure 🙂

  79. February 24, 2014 9:27 pm

    Reblogged this on rizoalex.

  80. February 25, 2014 5:52 am

    Reblogged this on HELLO I AM PRISCILLA and commented:
    Thats why I believe in writing to make a difference to the world and start small.

    Good read!

  81. February 25, 2014 7:56 am

    And that’s the pity of the world we live in today. If it bleeds it leads. If there’s a naked body we’re stopping to see what’s happening. I hear you- because I’m not writing for money persay content is really important whether it is 1 line or 1,000 lines.

  82. March 1, 2014 6:20 pm

    You forgot Buzzfeed. Ugh. Stupid, idiotic Buzzfeed…
    And Idiocracy is an awesome movie! Totally unappreciated and seen by way too few people.

  83. March 9, 2014 5:11 am

    Reblogged this on My Blog and commented:
    Thank you.

  84. March 16, 2014 8:06 pm

    You are spot on.
    I am so glad you wrote this, because getting paid for producing original, compelling, quality content has been on my mind a lot lately. I am constantly seeing parallels in the real world with the (IMO underrated) movie Ideocracy, but I thought I was the only one that noticed. The entire world is sharing the growing pains of this new paradigm for media. Information will always have a higher intrinsic value than filler. Unfortunately, the vast majority of “clickers” in the CPM scenario aren’t all that interested in quality content, rather they are looking for “Ow my balls” level stuff. Let’s all hope we can strike a balance at some point.

    Apropos to nothing, I guess, but did you know Seth (Family Guy) McFarlane is an Executive Producer for the science series “Cosmos”? So at least he gets it.

  85. Alyssa Royse permalink*
    March 17, 2014 6:45 am

    Ya. Isn’t that weird? A liberal black man hosting a show about science on Fox, produced by Seth McFarlane. It’s like a sign of the Apocalypse. Or hope.

  86. March 21, 2014 8:05 am

    Great post and agree.

  87. March 21, 2014 10:06 am

    Just because a medium can be used to sell products, it does not need to be used for that purpose. The internet is fundamentally a tool used to communicate information for a wide variety of uses. initially, it was the method used by the scientific community to collaborate all around the world for sharing discoveries, theories, and invention. The world needs the Internet.

    Changes are taking place worldwide that are revolutionary. Freedom and human rights are being implemented from the grassroots supporters. Elections are taking place and young Democracies are thriving. The world is self correcting. Long live the human races and all that they bring to the table together is astouynding. Greed is under attack. The solution is love thy neighbor.

  88. April 11, 2014 8:29 am

    Reblogged this on Tumbleweed~gypsy.

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