ben dreyfuss



If I waste any more of my life scrolling through click-bait it will diminish my faith in humanity. I have no idea what part of my caveman brain finds it so tempting to click on what is so obviously bullshit. I have always admired how The New York Times manages to summarize the most complex of ideas into one headline, for example: The Campaign of Deception Against Planned Parenthood. Compare that to Follow This One Simple Trick To Burn Fat:

This Will Kill You

The Trick Is You Die

Click-bait articles are masters of time suckage. Like a bad Tinder date they leave you feeling more empty and alone than before. You could’ve watched Orange is the New Black and followed the adventures of Tasty Girl, but instead you wasted an hour of your life with a total creep.

tastry giphy friends

In saying that, there’s an art to good click-bait. It’s not easy to present the flimsiest of illusions as analysis, while offering half-assed assertions as ‘facts’. The criticisms in 14 Movies You Thought Were Good But Were Actually Quite Bad are so vague and malnourished, they feel like parodies of terrible criticism. And yet, it was published.

Critical success, or boring?

Avatar: critical success, or ‘bad’?

Click-bait appeals to our most base insecurities. 60 Year Old Granny Looks 30 By Following This One Rule reads like it was composed by a crude algorithm designed to emulate human thoughts. But I’m so insecure I need to believe something, anything, will reverse the ravaging affects of aging. Besides, who doesn’t wish they could pull a bit of plastic off their face and look freakishly younger?

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Last year I had a fun conversation with my friend Ben Dreyfuss, who works at Mother Jones Magazine, about the distinction between ‘click-bait’ and entertainment, and the phenomenon of Click Bait Cops.


I hate to think how many hours I’ve wasted on click-bait. So to enact revenge I have taken a selection of classic click-bait articles, and offered you the spoiler. Enjoy!

Clickbait: The three deadliest drugs in America are all totally legal

Spoiler:Tobacco, alcohol, and prescription painkillers. (Each kills more people than marijuana.)

Clickbait: This Is The Personality Trait That Most Often Predicts Success

Spoiler: Conscientiousness.

Clickbait: What Happens When A Horse Discovers A Kiddie Pool? You Won’t Believe It!

Spoiler: It kicks with its front legs to splash water onto its body.