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How Hyperbolic Linkbait is Destroying the Internet

Rory Donahoe

Traditional print journalism has been on the decline for years as growing pains caused by the internet revolution have forced them to adapt. But the real loser in this merger of print and online content isn’t the old investigative journalists of yesteryear with their fedoras and old-timey flashbulb cameras, but anyone who reads the news.

Good journalism made for good news and successful papers. Even though sensationalist headlines were the norm, they were usually just to grab your attention so you’d read the rest of the paper. But in the internet age ad revenue is gained by convincing people to click on your headlines for every story you write, so every title has to be as sensationalist as possible, and because real journalists are expensive, we’re left with interns in a shouting match espousing nonsense to a gullible public to sell ads and promote reposts on social media.

I usually don’t mind silly internet posts, and I’m pretty adept at ignoring them, but I have to admit that they’ve crossed the line when they were the majority of news shared on the internet, rather than the chatter in the background. I have to put specific blame of the Huffington Post, whose meteoric rise as an online news source was gained through a lot of snappy, sometimes false, headlines, and set the precedent for other online news sites.

Another really bad contributor to the dumbing down Americans using linkbait is the blog Jezebel, which uses their destructive version of feminism to drive over half the population into a fervor using over the top headlines and content to drive sharing through outrage.

Although the internet is a melting pot of differing opinions and free speech, it also tends to well up and boil over when a bit of vitriol is dropped into the mix, and let’s face it, outrage sells. Apocalypse forecasting, misogyny being at an all-time high in 2014, an overbearing church protesting funerals, and homeopathic cancer cures the government is hiding from us all draw a lot of attention, get a lot of reposts from an unassuming public, and create a lot of revenue for news sites to keep creating them, but they’re bad. Stop reading them, stop posting them, and stop writing them. Please, I beg you.