If there’s a measure for how bad we’re doing as species, it’s clickbait. So, we’ve done a quick lap of the internet, and here’s what we’ll no longer have moving forward. Shocked? I’m not.
We’re hovering around a full week of 2018 being behind us, and it’s been quite a ride. Some sabre-rattling in Washington about the relative size of the President’s “nuclear button” suggested at first that the world could be on the brink of Armageddon, so if you have still to use your iTunes voucher that you got for Christmas, now might be the time.
Or not, such are the times in which we live.
So, notwithstanding the notion that the sun may very well not rise tomorrow – for it is hard for the sun to shine amid a nuclear winter – we have borne witness of late to a deluge of misleading clickbait articles about how one beloved consumer item or another is seemingly in mortal peril.
Tremble as some nonsense gets published in an attempt to lure you in about the future’s dire absence of chocolate!
Definitely panic as Metro.co.uk informs us about the forthcoming coffee famine (and in the hallmarks of quality, understated journalism, they actually tell you to panic)! Fill your shorts at the notion of your Paltrow-esque smoothie not having bananas in it! While pretend-news-outlets are doing all that they can to scare their readers with clickbait-y headlines like, the dire notion of there being no chocolate, no coffee, no honey, or no yoga pants (yet to materialise, but there’s still light left in the day), we’re not clicking on the stories of substance, the ones that actually affect the lives of fellow humans in the world.
But it’s what’s important to you, isn’t it? It’s what matters in your world! It’s tailored to your needs! Entertainment “stories” are part and parcel, the very bread and butter of the modern media machine and its dire, evil plan to lure eyeballs to their content. The media knows this, from serious to more “frivolous” entertainment outlets. Case in point: the latest Star Wars film was released in December. Fans were divided, critics less so. But Star Wars articles tend to get a lot of clicks, no matter what the content. The Hollywood Reporter, for whatever reason, ran a story about George Lucas seemingly having regrets about how The Phantom Menace was put together. And it would be newsworthy, had the content been new, and not just something someone at the Hollywood Reporter stumbled on upon revisiting Episode I’s 19-year-old DVD extras menu.
But they ran it as a homepage story anyhow, and boom, there were clicks.
Fascistic ethnic cleansing in Myanmar? Scroll past that; boring; I don’t even know what a Myanmar is. The promise of no coffee within a century? Hold the phone! (literally). Now, as far as this dearth of consumer goods, or at least the notion of their absence within a decade, or within the lifetime of your average sea turtle, there is it seems very little we can do about it. Climate change is the result of fossil fuel consumption, and you have in India and China two nations with economies wanting to emerge in a global marketplace that seems to be made for them – cheap labour and surplus industrial infrastructure.
You can neither see or breathe in New Delhi or Beijing, but that’s progress (and capitalism), folks. When in Rome, or Sydney, Melbourne, Des Moines or Slough, do as the Romans do. Why not eat all the bananas you can, drink your weight in coffee and go all Augustus Gloop next time you’re near a Lindt outlet? It’s not like you can fight city hall, and it’s not like you were going to go without anyway, was it? You’d think we’d be better than this, that there’d be some measure of intellectual curiosity among the populace, but social media and devices have made us even more the centre of our universes than we were before; we’re emerging as a society of sociopaths who have no concern for anyone or anything else other than that inside our immediate spectrum. In her short story The Embassy of Cambodia, Zadie Smith made this very point, albeit in a far superior manner: “Surely there is something to be said for drawing a circle around our attention and remaining within that circle. But how large should this circle be?” Drink all the coffee you can, while you can, I say. Because apart from anything else, Gwyneth Paltrow wants you to give her $200 so you can squirt it up your poop chute.