With media outlets like Upworthy and Buzzfeed, headlines like the one above are plaguing almost every social media platform.
By now I’m sure you’ve realized that this is not a list of the 1o hottest professors at Dalhousie. If you clicked on this article because of that, then you, my friend, fell into the trap of clickbait.
In a simple definition, clickbait is basically every headline you see on Buzzfeed. They are dramatic, sensational statements that are “guaranteed to blow your mind” or “restore your faith in humanity.” Normally, these headlines guide you to a shallow article or listicle of some real superficial content. Obviously that isn’t the case for this article though…right?
Clickbait is a product of what we journalism students call yellow journalism. This term describes a form of journalism that offers little or no legitimate news and is often poorly researched or, worse, not at all. Yellow journalism has been creeping its way into our Facebook feeds, Twitterspheres, and as of August, it has made its way into Halifax with Narcity Halifax.
Narcity media claims to produce “engaging content for today’s generation.” I don’t know about you, but if “6 Halifax Universities As Mean Girls Characters” is what Narcity thinks is “engaging” for us, then, quite frankly, I am insulted.
From what I can tell, Narcity’s mandate is to produce low-bar shallow content geared towards petty interests to get as much traffic, views and shares as possible. With 4.5 million Canadian readers monthly and over 650,000 followers on social media, this strategy is working.
These numbers, though impressive, are concerning. Is this seriously the kind of content that we want representing our generation? Publications like Narcity don’t even represent us accurately, which is exemplified in the article “12 Of The Prettiest Dalhousie Girls You Should Follow On Instagram.”
Originally this article used “hottest” instead of “prettiest,” and as I’m sure you can imagine, this caused a hell of an uproar from Dalhousie students, which eventually led to Narcity taking down the article – not before I got to read it though.
At first glance, I naively thought that maybe this article would showcase the amazing diversity amongst the women of Dalhousie. Instead, I found list of photos of predominately white, cisgender girls. Okay, well maybe the author will discuss their accomplishments. No? It’s just a list based on objectifying these women because of their good looks? Sigh.
Don’t get me wrong, the ladies featured in this list are beautiful. And kudos to Narcity Halifax for realizing how awful this article was by taking it down. But, seriously, who actually thought that publishing that was a good idea? I also think it’s worth mentioning that MTL Blog, a division of Narcity, also published two articles of a similar caliber that were also taken down after similar backlash.
Millennials are a diverse, strong and incredibly intellectual cohort, and dammit, we deserve way better than this. Buzzfeed, Upworthy and Narcity, I get you, I see what you’re doing. You’re cheap entertainment for a generation that’s on the go. We read you when we need mindless amusement between study breaks or when we’re on the toilet. Despite your catchy clickbait titles and trendy content, you will not define us. Our generation deserves better than this kind of media. You will not – and do not – represent us.