What's now. What's next.

Here’s a helpful test to work out if you’re wasting your time.

by Nextness published January 20, 2013 posted in Insights

In 2011 and 2012 it was “10 ways to…” or “8 reasons why…”

In 2013, this is what we have instead:

  • “Here’s the Real Reason Why…”
  • “Good Morning, X Happened to Y”
  • “The Cycle Of Love You’ll Go Through With Your Phone.”
  • “I Can’t Stop Staring At….”

They’re cliched web headlines, and they’re everywhere.

According to editor of The Awl, Choire Sicha, web headlines now are

… a strange cross between imperative and inviting. The tone is soothing, seductive and at least a little bit demanding… What’s oddest about this form of headline is that it’s disassociated from conveying news. Instead it conveys interaction. Headlines once were stuffed full of proper nouns. But it turns out, old-fashioned headlines don’t convey things that aren’t news well.

And if they’re not news, why are you reading them?

Sicha concludes sadly, “These constructions acknowledge a truth: our actions are increasingly passive online, and we really are just looking for something to watch, click, share and receive.”

If you spot a headline like that, save yourself time and skip it.

But what about when you’re scrolling through Twitter, or FB? The feeds of your friends, people you follow and trust?

How do you know if your friend’s (or favourite curator’s) link is just a time-sink?

Well, it will probably announce itself with a lead-in like this:

  • Made me smile: [link to a thumbdrive in the shape of a clothespeg].
  • Just so you know: [link to an infographic showing how to escape from a disused well if all you have on you is a lifejacket, false teeth and gas cylinder].
  • Just spat coffee on my keyboard: [gif of a newsreader falling off a platform during a live cross; paralysis, hospitalisation and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of surgery and physio not shown].
  • You’re welcome: [Ryan Gosling with no shirt on].
  • My ovaries just exploded: [animal of X species snuggling animal of Y species].
  • And the laziest presentation of a link, ever? “This.” When people just write “This.” Nothing else. Just “This.” This: [Ryan Gosling with no shirt on snuggling an animal of X or Y species].

The fact is, unless someone takes the time to explain either:

  • Why the link is important to them, or
  • Why it should be important to you

…it’s probably just ephemera.

There’s nothing wrong with ephemera.

So long as you’re consuming it consciously – and you’ve got the time to spare.


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