I have no data to backup my theory; it’s just a trend that I observed in the past years. The amount of headlines like “10 places you should visit before you die”, “15 best jQuery plugins of the year”, “best video you will watch today” keeps increasing; I blame the rise of social media and the death of RSS readers.
It’s sad to admit it; but if a headline isn’t sensationalist, the likelihood of someone reading it and sharing it, is not as high.
I remember a few years ago, when the first thing I did during the morning was to open NetVibes to check if any of my favorite blogs had a new post. Nowadays the first thing I do is to open Twitter to see if anyone shared an interesting opinion/link. And I know a lot of people that use Reddit and HackerNews for the same reasons.
Somehow I think I wasn’t as influenced by the headlines when it came from some of my favorite sources. It didn’t matter what Jeff Atwood, Steve Yegge, Kangax, Angus Croll, John Resig and so many others published; I always read at least the first paragraphs, since the likelihood of being something I would enjoy was pretty high.
Nowadays I end up reading only what is shared by trusted sources, or posts where the title makes me curious about it. Don’t know if it is just a side effect of the insane amount of information that we have access nowadays (I have over 2000 articles saved for later on Pocket); or if it’s a side-effect of the death of the RSS readers and rise of social media. But I do know that I don’t like what I see. It is really disappointing when a linkbait doesn’t deliver the content, I feel cheated.
Tabloids aren’t trustworthy, the same way that linkbait articles shouldn’t be. Everything that is sensationalist is very likely to be exaggerated just to increase the drama, be it for entertainment or just for selling more copies. – I’m guilty as well.
I have no idea how to solve this problem (and if it needs to be solved), I just hope this trend ends soon.