You Won’t Read This Blog Post

According to studies, around 60-80% of you never read past the headline. That’s right, this one included. Congrats if you read past the aptly titled You Won’t Read This Blog Post, ’cause you’re in the minority! You’re only slightly more common than the guesstimated 0.01% of people who read the iTunes terms and conditions, those poor, poor souls. I mean, I read the entire Copyright Act of 1968 once for a university assignment, and I don’t even do that.

So, um…hello, I guess? Wow, I actually only had enough content to fill out that one paragraph. Hey, well since you’re still reading this well into paragraph two, I guess you’re here for the long run. Sigh. I guess I’ll start with the article that I first thought of when looking into the topic of, well, Reading Past the Headline and Read[ing] This Blog Post. It was April Fools’ Day, and I was one of those fools that spent the day mindlessly scrolling down the mine of endless time-wasting, Facebook. That day in 2014, I switched between Facebook and Twitter and back to Facebook. Then a wild article caught my attention. These were the wild days in which I didn’t have AdBlocker and F.B Purity, so I immediately reacted—probably with rage or annoyance or something–when I saw this headline:

Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?

With imagined fury running through my veins, I read through the comments, as they, 100% of the time (unless comments are disabled) are a source of lolcowery, entertainment and humour. This one was predictable, with the obligatory slew of comments about millennials destroying society by partying with smashed avocado instead of buying houses; As a non-American, I knew ‘Muricans were always stupid; those “LOL Debbie this is so true” with attached Minions image; and more. The truth: I didn’t even click on the link until I read a comment that gave it all away. And I’m not the only one. You do it too.

Congrats for reading further than the headline. Here’s a picture of my cat.

If you’re still reading past the Read More cut, I applaud you. A quick Google search of results—and yes, I did click on the links, even if I only read a few paragraphs—show the minuscule number of those who read past the headlines. Campaignlive says it’s only eight out of ten that actually click on; Gizmodo links to a Columbia University study that says 59% of links shared on social media have never been clicked, and Washington Post links to the same study with a reference to an event similar to the Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore one.

Study: 70% of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before commenting

Most people—funnily enough, around 70%—would see this link from what they assume is a legitimate post. The Science Post doesn’t sound a jot like The Onion or Clickhole, and people fall for them all the time. It’s like those Clickhole posts that parody President Trump’s over-tweeting, or Gawker Media’s…oh wait. The other articles by the aforementioned three sites say similar things to this post, but this one is the different because when you actually click on the link, it’s one paragraph of article and two point five paragraphs of lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

So, why is it that so many people fall for these clickbaity headlines? The answer may surprise you! No, not really.

  1. They’re clickbait. The headline is designed to evoke a reaction, and that’s how the sites get their $$$
  2. We are lazy. C’mon, it involves effort opening up a new tab. Reacting with anger and REEEEEEEing is quicker, and it stops us from questioning our beliefs, which are clearly already correct and don’t need to be changed or questioned no sirree. [sarcasm]
  3. Articles aren’t designed to be read the full way. In university journalism, we were taught about the “inverted pyramid”, a method in which important information is put first, and the least important info at the end. This is only untrue in feature articles.
  4. C’mon, I doubt you’ve even read this far. Vivamus pellentesque sem nunc, nec maximus metus congue nec. Vestibulum pharetra enim at euismod auctor. Pellentesque ac vulputate felis.
  5. He threatened to turn me in to the government, so I made him and the government go away. I’ve replaced them both as the de facto patriarch of your family and your universe. Your mom wouldn’t have accepted me if I came home without you and your sister, so now you know the real reason I rescued you.
  6. I just took over the family, Morty, and if you tell your mom or sister I said any of this, I’ll deny it, You’re gonna deny it and they’ll take my side because I’m a hero, Morty. And now you’re gonna have to go and do whatever I say, Morty, forever! And I’ll, I’ll go out and I’ll find some more of that Mulan Szechuan teriyaki dipping sauce, Morty.

In the end, I hope what you get from this blog post is that you will put more effort into reading—at least the few paragraphs—of news articles. Think before you share. Even if you don’t care about what you’re reading, you’ll at least be able to pretend you’ve read it all from the first few paragraphs (thanks inverted pyramid!) instead of just making up what just isn’t there just to fit into your narrow beliefs.


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