Here’s a good story about how awful clickbait is. There’s a definite argument to be made that there IS amazing, under-reported content out there. And the beautiful, democratizing power of the Internet is that it lends a megaphone to anyone with a smartphone (and, increasingly, dumbphones).
But I think in trying to cut through the sea of dross that exists out there (hey yo, 9gag), Upworthy and Co. have begun to create their own white noise. There are amazing people doing great things out there. When I think of the immense power of the Internet and social media services like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit, I think of African startups. I think about amazing storytellers on RISK. I think about how quickly information, money, and aid can be requested and distributed. But when clicks (and by proxy, time and attention) are taken by clickbait, these stories that need an audience are muted, to the disservice of us all.
The secret is to be petty. In the case of the “Amazing kid who just died and the wondtacular thing he left behind”, the secret is to not care. I don’t care what he left behind. I hate the word wondtacular. It’s so disgustingly and offensively naive and wide-eyed. And it cheapens all of the great stuff that people do.