In my first Clickbait Spoilers column, I wrote about how irritated I am that our Facebook feeds are now full of clickbait headlines — tantalizing teasers that often lead to underwhelming stories. When you fall for it, you feel used. You feel cheated. You feel like a sucker.
I decided to fight back by writing up some clickbait-headline spoilers. If a headline says, “You won’t believe what happens next,” I’m going to darned well tell you, saving you the trouble of clicking through and being disappointed.
The first column triggered a huge response of support and many requests to continue the tradition. Today, then, I offer this week’s assortment of Pogue’s Clickbait Spoilers!
Clickbait: Looks Like An Old Manor Hotel…But Once I Saw The 3rd Photo, My Jaw Dropped!
Spoiler: It’s a hotel in Africa where giraffes roam freely.
Clickbait: How I Got Kicked Out Of The 9/11 Museum
Spoiler: A reporter is asked to leave the 9/11 museum after witnessing a minor verbal altercation and trying to ask one of the participants a question. The museum’s guidelines prohibit reporters from interviewing people, so museum patrons can ponder and grieve in peace. Reporter feels victimized.
Clickbait: Nobody Expected THIS To Happen When These Four Women Walked On Stage. Whoa!
Spoiler: Four women in black cocktail dresses — two violinists, a cellist, and a piano player — perform while holding their instruments in various amusing positions.
Clickbait: This Looked Like A Bird At First. Then I Zoomed In And Couldn’t Believe My Eyes!
Spoiler: Mobula rays leap out of the sea in slow motion, flapping like birds.
Clickbait: One of Life’s Mysteries Revealed with This GoPro-in-a-Dishwasher Video
Spoiler: A sprayer spins around for four minutes, squirting water inside a dishwasher. One of life’s mysteries? Really? What did you think happened in a dishwasher?
Clickbait: People Were Stunned When She Chose to Marry Him. They Said it Could Never Work. 3 Years Later, Things Couldn’t Be Better.
Spoiler: After 10 months of dating, a man’s brain is damaged in a car accident. Although he cannot speak or walk, his girlfriend marries him anyway, as presented by this religious website. He’s regained some speech after three years, but I’m not sure “Things couldn’t be better” is how even the couple would put it.
Clickbait: How to Tell Someone’s Age When All You Know Is Her Name
Spoiler: Does this story by famous baseball and political statistician Nate Silver actually reveal how to tell how old someone is with only a name? No. It just points out that baby names cycle in and out of popularity. Someone named Mildred or Ethel is probably old, and someone named Madison or Hailey is probably young.
Clickbait: A Grieving Father Is Asking Americans to Do This One Thing
Spoiler: Send postcards to politicians supporting gun-control laws.
Clickbait: A Man Played Music Next For Elephants - What They Did Next Will AMAZE You!
Spoiler: Actually, what one elephant did might actually amaze you a little. A guy plays the blues on an upright piano in an elephant enclosure. One of the elephants keeps flapping its ears and swatting the keyboard with its trunk, as though joining in the duet.
Clickbait: This Invention Will Change The World, Just Watch
Spoiler: No, it won’t. An Idaho couple proposes replacing pavement (roads, highways, parking lots) with solar panels. An exciting idea, but hopelessly impractical. Even if we had the money to build vast acreage of solar panels, roads aren’t the best place for them; they’ll be driven on by trucks! Also, driving on glass might present traction issues.
As always my message is this: If you have to resort to trickery to get people to read your article, then something is wrong with either your material or your approach. If the story is really good, you should be capable of writing a clear headline and trusting that readers will click.
You can email David Pogue here.