Click Bait & the Inverse Rule

This video is entitled “Harley Davidson owners ride off cliff”, which would appear to be overstating it somewhat, “HD owners topple into ditch” would be a bit more accurate!

However putting the hyperbole to one side for a moment, the site that shared the video, ‘Speed and Engine’, then went on to use it as a warning against the dangers of riding solo saying:

“Thankfully the rest of the riders that witnessed the accident pulled over to help, and so did a few other good samaritans on cars. Had a Harley been riding alone and fallen deep into the ditch, who knows how long it would’ve taken for someone to notice the fallen bike and rider.”

Which totally ignores a few glaring realities:
  1.  The two Harleys weren’t part of the same group as the chaps on the sports bikes; the boys with the GoPros simply happened to catch up with the cruisers and then – very patiently and respectfully I thought – sat back behind them.
  2. Even though the bikes that ended up in the ditch weren’t part of the larger group, they weren’t riding alone either; which of course hardly adds credence to the ‘ride with company for safety’ argument because they both tumbled off the same bit of road. So far from being safer, it could be reasonably pointed out that it is very unlikely that the second ‘Glide would have lost it if it hadn’t been for his buddy’s cock up.
  3. As for the rest of the riders thankfully pulling over to help; by the time they’d finally parked their bikes and waddled back to the scene, the crash crew were already on their feet and the woman was calling for assistance on her mobile – so how was it exactly that the Harley riders benefitted from riding in a group (even though they weren’t)? It’s not as if they were even going to attempt to turn those behemoths back up the right way!

I really couldn’t understand why anyone would bother to post something so woefully inaccurate and thoroughly pointless! However, shortly after I was talking to The Rider’s Digest‘s web wizard Phil and as I was expressing my incredulity he cut across me to dismiss it as ‘click bait’. Looking at the link again and this time noticing the adverts all over the page, it occurred to me that the website’s owners might have been more interested in getting people to click on adverts for Viagra, “amazing dirty photos” and “awkward pictures of hotties who don’t wear underpants” (underpants!!!?), than they were in providing well thought out, intelligent, thought-provoking and above all entertaining content. 


Which is all very well, not everyone is interested in offering a classy alternative to the kind of pulp that the mainstream media wraps around their altogether more tasteful – and vastly more expensive – advertising, but then I noticed Speed & Engine’s ‘Like us on Facebook’ link above the throbbing nobs and knickerless girlies and saw that their FB page has 104K likes! What is that all about!?

The Rider’s Digest publishes a new edition quarterly and each one contains between 130 and 200 pages of nicely laid out, properly proof-read words and top notch pictures, including the only in-depth (up to six thousand words per issue) reviews of motorcycle literature anywhere on the Internet – or in print – and its FB page currently has a grand total 3,318 likes!

In the commercial media where money is the primary if not the sole motivator, it must be becoming increasingly difficult for editors to justify the expense of commissioning thoughtful incisive articles, when a photo of an underdressed “hottie”, a cute cuddly kitten, or an “Elvis found working in a Morleys chicken shop in Streatham” headline will generate ‘more traffic’ than a considered treatise on the latest trend for ‘shed built’ motorcycles, despatch riding in 80s London, or Motogymkhana in Holland.

It would appear then that an inverse rule seems to apply whereby the more effort, intelligence, love and craft is invested into a feature, the less likely it is to enjoy any sort of popular internet success. Fortunately there are still a few of us who are slaves to culture rather than lucre so we’re still happy to share art for art’s sake.

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One thought on “Click Bait & the Inverse Rule

  1. It’s a real struggle to produce quality content for the internet when so much of it is deliberately designed as clickbait.

    On my Elevenses show on Wednesday morning, I mentioned a story published by the Blackpool Gazette that used the headline:

    “Blackpool biker Sam Cardwell, who died after hitting a road sign and parked car at 51mph in 30mph zone, had ‘drugs and booze’ in his system, inquest is told”

    When you actually read the story, you find that Assistant coroner Victoria Davies said the results of blood tests “should be interpreted with caution”. as the blood sample for the toxicology report was only taken during a post-mortem examination. So yes, speeding biker. Stoned biker? Quite possibly not.

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