Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Click Bait Culture

Last week, I had some time to kill so I began to scroll through Facebook. I came to something called a sponsored post. “Sponsored” means someone paid to have the posting show up on your Facebook feed more than normal because they want to sell you something. I normally move past those things but this one was about a piece of history I found interesting. I thought, “Maybe this one will be different”. It wasn’t. It was a series of 32 pages that carried only fragments of the promised article. If you wanted to read the entire article you had to hit the “Next” button 31 more times. 

On each page were loads of garish advertisements that were secondary baits used to either keep you clicking through the original article or jump off into another advertising universe for something you don’t need. Once I saw I had been taken, I bailed and returned to my Facebook surfing scrolling my way through my friend’s latest recipes or pet antics.

Here is a definition of “click bait” I pulled off an on-line dictionary: “An eye-catching link on a website which encourages people to read on. It is often paid for by the advertiser or generates income based on the number of clicks.”

A study done in the psychology of social media discovered that click bait relies on two things – curiosity and deprivation. The curiosity part is obvious. The deprivation part takes a bit processing to understand. The feeling of deprivation comes when you don’t click the bait. The image or comment plants a question in your mind. In order to find the answer you either have to labor through the research on your own or simply click the convenient bait being offered to quickly have your need to know satisfied and no longer feel deprived.

Here are some examples of click bait one-liners used to lure your response:

         “Wow - they forget the camera was still rolling!”
         “Number 2 is my favorite”
         “OMG – I can’t believe she did this!”
         “Wait until you see what they did!”
         “This is your last chance!”
         “I didn’t know a human body could do this!”

There is another form of click bait that is actually more dangerous. It is the click bait that gains its power from a lack of honor and integrity. This is the click bait of gossip. A friend says a few magic words and your sense of deprivation to know more kicks in and you take the bait and allow yourself to hear things about another person or ministry that soils your image of them with the convenience of unproven accusations or falsehoods. You could apply this to other things besides gossip.

God has called you to be a person who walks in a high level of integrity and honor. This calling can only be accomplished if you train yourself to scroll by the offerings of dishonor that want access to your eyes and your ears. This training begins when you go to your place of deprivation -and ask yourself a hard question, “What lie am I believing that would cause me to want to hear such things in the first place?” That lie will show you where your next advancement in honor and integrity will take place. These lies that conceal their presence under spiritual click bait will show you where you are finding satisfaction in something other than Jesus. Put those lies to death with truth and the next time the bait is offered you will scroll right by its false promise living in the freedom that only a life of honor and integrity can provide.

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