Dear writers, editors and publishers,
Can you please do me a favor?
In your article titles and headlines, can you refrain from telling me how to feel?
Let me explain. There’s been this seemingly innocuous, yet incredibly annoying trend of telling the readers that “watching this video will give you all the feels” and more.
Do you really want to know how they make me feel?
I don’t want to be told what emotion to have or to anticipate having after watching this clip you’re pushing to go viral. Not at all.
In fairness, at the right time and with the right person, these clips can tug at one’s heartstrings, if he or she is seeking out something positive, enlightening or at least entertaining in a media world full of horrible, sordid and maddening stories. The right clip can compel someone to click because it’s articulating something with a honesty and boldness that one usually cannot.
(Which reminds me of something from the mid-2000s. The 10PM newscast from WWOR-9 in Secaucus, New Jersey used to feature a segment called “Good News” where the anchors would highlight a few positive stories after spending the majority of the telecasts telling viewers who got shot and where. It was a wonderfully noble attempt to gain traction in the local news ratings wars by doing something different and absolutely needed. Unfortunately, the segment didn’t last for very long, and surprisingly, neither did the newscast itself, which was actually cancelled two years ago.)
Some would blame sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed for the trend, and while they have already been roundly criticized and mocked, they also created – or rather “inspired” – a new language of clickbait that has been co-opted by many of our favorite blog networks and websites.
When you tell us that “this will inspire you”, “this will change the way you think about ______”, or that “this will make you cry” before we click the link, an unintended byproduct called cynicism kicks in. There may be equally as many people that will shed tears as those who will roll their eyes. Creating these emotional expectations is unfair because not every person responds to, well, anything the same way.
In fact, you manage to make genuine human emotions into internet clichés.
So please, consider not doing that anymore. You won’t stop, but for the love of @SavedYouAClick, please think about it.
Thanks for reading. Have a great day!