Learn how to write clickbait by scouring social media trends
I wish I had the time to get as annoyed about irrelevant things such as whether or not fictional characters’ sexuality mattered in 2 hour films. I wish I cared enough to get angry about pre-established characters’ personality traits and flaws, instead of trying to find ways to force my agenda into original characters and stories.
I gave up on cartoons and comics about 5 years ago. After spending a vast amount of my childhood and early adulthood seeking refuge from bullies and assholes through fictional lore, I discovered that everyone I was trying to get away from had entered my geeky safe space. I used to spend countless hours arguing about whether something was canon, if Goku could beat Superman, and which Doctor was the best. It was incredibly exhausting. Once “nerd culture” became mainstream, I couldn’t keep up and so… I didn’t. I’ll check in on a few films or watch the latest (“Oh my god I’m such a nerd”) episode of Game of Thrones, but other than that — it’s not worth my time to argue about which version of Nick Fury is the most privileged.
Don’t let me rain on your parade though. I understand the escapism that the culture brings and how it can make you feel like you’re a part of a community. I’m not writing to bash on your personal convictions. If you want Captain America to have a boyfriend, good deal. It doesn’t matter to me if the film universe dictated that his character have a romantic interest in an old lady. If you tweet it, maybe you can make it reality. After all, we exist inside of a simulation and with enough memetic thought energy, we can alter the course of history.
I clicked the article above. I’m a true hero. You don’t have to click it now. This “DISNEY HAS A MAJOR LGBT PROBLEM…” article has been written so many times and just copypasted with different names that I bet you’ve memorized its content. Hypable’s publication name is comical to me, because it’s a few letters from Hyperbole. (If any of you would like, we can start a publication called Hyperbole. I’d be down like a non-misgendered clown in a casually racist stereotype of China-town.) The article is simply conjecture and “Wouldn’t it be great if..”’s. You know the kind. Save yourself a minute or two by never clicking another article with the word ‘problem’ in the headline.
Twitter trends like #GiveElsaAGirlfriend and #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend probably start from some well-meaning fandom, but I’m starting to lean towards a media conspiracy to rile people up and force clicks to articles that happen to show up shortly after the tags start trending. The Evil 4chan has been creating Twitter trends for years in order to call out the hypocritical nature of media and to bait desperate idiots into writing about them. Even this week, 4chan users have got 2 campaigns going that have been a depressing (albeit darkly humorous) examples of how quickly media will jump on a hashtag campaign.
This is why I’m here. Like my AVGN article or you know, any of my previous articles, I’m here to complain about how the media sharks are taking the things you’re complaining about and making them into hyperbolic news. They exaggerate your offense and make money off of it. So let’s talk about ways we can stop this from happening.
I want what you’re smoking
I still get somewhat angry when seeing Rogue One won’t feature my boy, Kyle Katarn. I still get somewhat upset when seeing my homie, Disney (where I used to work), making awesome versions of my favorite stories growing up AND at the same time pushing for copyright extensions that they don’t deserve. I still get assblasted when Disney hires a million outsourced workers and makes their current, about to be fired, staff train them. I actually am pretty perturbed by that shit. So much so, that I’ve glossed over it several times in the past and will more than likely write a full, featured length article about it that will ensure I’ll never work for a media company again (though hopefully I can, because it’s literally all I know).
See — I wade (Deadpool joke!) through the bullshit of media fuckery on a daily basis. These are issues that matter to me, because I’m engrained in them. Even though I’m a bisexual, gender-fluid confused mess, I‘m not an active participant in LGBT discussions and I’m not part of a fandom that has empowered me as an individual. Everything I know, I have learned over the course of my 20+ year tenure scouring the internet. As a tool for learning, it’s important to me that the internet is saved from the vultures in my industry. It’s important to me that stories can still be shared in 30 years and aren’t caught up around copyright law dictated by massive media conglomerates.
But I’ve been a fan. Star Wars and Spider-Man were my escape back then and I did spend a lot of time getting upset, so I can empathize. I’m probably even what you’d call a mad nerd, since every week I publish a piece about how mad I am. I use shitty headlines that don’t really reference the material in the article and I use outrage to try and get clicks.
A friend told me not to ruin my reputation by doing this, after I released my AVGN rant, but I don’t really have a reputation and I don’t make any money writing — so I’ll keep it up until everyone else stops.
But this mindset is part of the problem.
- Writers are desperate
The entire industry of journalism, editorial publications and blogging is a wreck. We’re not necessarily trying to be evil, but our parent companies sure as hell are and with click quotas and manipulative editors, you’re sure to see some really shitty headlines and articles from us. But how the hell else are we supposed to get read?
- Publications refuse to innovate
Yeah, it’s not all of the writers’ faults. We work for those clicks. Publications hate the readers. They just want your advertising dollars and now with adblock blockers, they’re trying to have their cake and eat it it. I go into this here. There are ways to make money and innovate this industry without the internet becoming a Buzzfeed styled cesspool of bullshit.
- Readers like feeling emotions
But we don’t always have to give them negative emotions. There are other emotions to feel outside of anger and outrage. Happiness and joy and excitement come to mind. Instead of fearmongering and trying to work our way into Google News aggregates by gaming articles with keywords, maybe let’s write a few uplifting articles about saving humanity from the doldrums.
I used to (and plan on still) write well researched articles in response to current events. Lately, it seems I write outrage pieces in spite of my personal convictions. I can try to validate myself by saying they’ll shed some light on the web’s content problem, but I personally struggle with it every day.
If you’re like me, then that’s good (probably). Do what you have to, but be self-critical. If you’re a vulture, reconsider why you’re writing and what got you into it. As a wise man once said on Twitter:
Where am I going with this?
I’m not entirely certain. I think what I want to say is:
I would write anything for a dollar. Hire me, I’ll do it. But that being said, so will anyone else. If you see news that suddenly agrees with whatever political or agenda-driven platform you are currently fighting about on Twitter, be wary. These articles often do not have your best interest in mind. Never let anyone tell you that the things you are fighting for aren’t important, but never trust the media to tell you the truth.
Also, Disney owns pretty much everything and maybe the best way to get what you want out of these characters is to fight the good fight towards copyright reform so that YOU can write the stories YOU want involving these timeless characters (without being taken to court and sued to hell and back). Disney made his start borrowing from great works, it’s time to free Mickey Mouse and let him be as gay as he was meant to be (in our fan-fiction).