I just witnessed a fascinating instance involving a bad link and a series of comments. One of my Facebook friends spotted what she presumably thought an interesting article and clicked the link. It went to a story about a completely different topic.
She then pointed out not a single person, other than her, noticed the story went to a bad link. Her observation was completely on point but not exactly what I want to discuss today. What about all those comments and likes?
The Headline is all that Matters
The picture and headline of the Facebook link indicated psychological reasons for feeling anxiety after heavy drinking. There followed some 150 comments and nearly 700 likes or emoji responses, primarily likes. Yet, it was a bad link. Not a single person making a comment or reacting to the story actually tried to read it, other than my friend.
Now, I’m used to the idea that people comment on stories without reading them. I see all sorts of behavior like that, particularly in regards to my Misleading Headline series. Even I, in my cynicism, didn’t imagine they don’t even bother to click the link.
What percentage of people commenting on a story failed not only to read the article itself but didn’t even try? From the evidence on display here, I’d guess it might be as high as 90%.
Is Humanity just a Bad Link?
There’s a lot of evidence to suggest a healthy percentage of people just don’t care. They don’t see. They don’t read. They don’t listen. They look for what they superficially desire and call it a life. Is this disturbing reality what drives much of the misunderstand between people we see in the world these days?
Has mass media, social media, quick snippets of targeted lies found their ultimate audience? Are the rational of the world doomed to be destroyed by those who don’t even bother to find out it’s a bad link?
I don’t think so. I think there’s plenty of hope for humanity but we need to start teaching critical thinking skills at the very earliest levels of education and never stop. Click the damn link.