Pushing past the click bait

The click bait dilemma in the 21st century

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Our young minds have gotten lazy.

As I scroll through Facebook during my lectures, I’m often overwhelmed by the amount of click bait style articles I see with catchy titles that read “20 Things you Must do Before 20”.

Like most other students, I find myself clicking on these articles, spending hours reading other people’s opinions and searching for advice as if they hold the answers to my problems, only to realize they can’t and never will.

Although we might not want to admit it, as Millennials, we’re just as influential and bold as we are frightened and confused. The world is a scary place and being a 20 something in this modern day and age is far from a walk in the park.

When we’re faced with challenges, we often seek out advice in the form of articles and forums posted online. In other words, we’ve come to rely on insufficient, unreliable information that is most likely written from the experiences of another millennial struggling with the same thing.

More often than not, this type of journalism is flooded with grammatical errors and awkward sentencing that usually presents no clear argument or advice.

Albeit a quick read, this blog style of journalism is dangerous because we often buy into the idea that these articles will give us the answers we need to improve our lives.

Whether it be “how to find love” or “how you're limiting yourself”, these articles are often wrapped up in pretty packages but offer limited advice or knowledge. For arguments sake some of these articles serve as entertainment for our pop culture needs but the real issue lies within our assumption that this type of journalism holds the answers to all of our problems.

These opinionated pieces have taken over our newsfeeds causing us to make comparisons and place too much reliance on other people’s experiences and opinions.

These articles are relatable and sometimes humorous, further tempting desperate readers to apply their solutions to their own problems, but it’s not always that simple. Everyone experiences situations differently.

For example, just because you didn’t land an internship before your 19th birthday doesn’t make you any less successful than that 20 year old who writes “Why your hard work isn’t paying off”. 

While sites like Elite Daily claim to be “The Voice of Generation Y”, their articles only seem to make us feel unaccomplished and dissatisfied with our lives. As a website that gets millions of hits a month, this misinformation and incorrect advice is influencing many young people and may be changing the way we perceive ourselves.

Many authors of these millennial-focused journals are millennials themselves which helps make their writing accessible on social media and relatable, but it’s not always accurate advice.

It’s a vicious cycle  —  we run into problems, we go searching for answers in the wrong places and then we suffer more by comparing ourselves to others. No good comes of this comparison as it often leaves the reader feeling more confused.

Opinionated writing can be very beneficial. Opinion pieces open our minds and force us to reflect; they have the power to aid and inspire.

However as a millennial, I don’t want to feel dissatisfied with where I’m at in my life. I don’t want to constantly be comparing myself to others.

I want the articles I’m reading every day to make me think and reflect on my own experiences — not make me feel as if I’m failing. As a solution, I can only offer that we demand better.

We need to be more critical of what we’re reading even if it is just an article on Facebook. By commenting on links and leaving reviews on other authors’ blogs, we can be more active in shaping the world of online journalism.

We need to be more aware of what type of journalism we’re buying into and start asking for better representation of our generation. By taking an active stance on this type of news we can stop comparing ourselves to each other, As young people, we already have enough pressure on ourselves; we don't need to buy into some ideal of what our lives should look like.  

I believe we need to give up on scouring the internet for answers and start believing in ourselves. At the end of the day, we know ourselves best and shouldn’t have to rely on someone writing from their laptop halfway across the world. So take these type of “click bait” articles with a grain of salt and stop looking to them for answers because everyone is at a different point in their lives and we all have our own issues and experiences.

We’re young and we deserve to give ourselves the chance to go through life without constantly comparing our accomplishments and failures to those around us. So I ask, next time you scroll through social media, think twice about what you’re reading.

Hayley Belle is a fourth-year English major.

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