Don’t Click on Father’s Day Clickbait – Click Here Instead

Don’t Click on Father’s Day Clickbait – Click Here Instead June 19, 2016

Oh look, cute baby [click, click, click] (Paul Inkles, Business Baby Pointing, 20111; Source: Flickr: CC by 2.0)
Oh look, cute baby clicking! [click, clickety, click, click] (Paul Inkles, Business Baby Pointing, 20111; Source: Flickr: CC by 2.0)
There are always people who will have silly objections to things bloggers write, but “This is clickbait!” is the most incoherent.

Readers objecting to clickbait makes as much sense as driving cars and complaining that they burn fossil fuels, or use electricity.

gombrowicz philosophyEvery writer, not just bloggers, wants to be reflected in the eyes of readers. It doesn’t matter who the reader is. This is a deeply human need that the novelist Witold Gombrowicz captured in his Ferdydurke:

Man is profoundly dependent on the reflection of himself in another man’s soul, be it even the soul of an idiot.

Hegel had the same thought in the Phenomenology of Spirit, but over 600 pages in turgid German prose. I recommend skipping the Hegel book and reading Gombrowicz’s five page summary of it in A Guide to Philosophy in Six Hours and Fifteen Minutes.

The ontological necessity of imitating the desire of others is a fundamental insight Rene Girard picked up from his reading of Kojeve’s Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit. With Brexit (the coinage originates with the melding of the worst conservative reporting and Sartre) on everyone’s mind it’s relevant to remember the Russian Hegelian expat was one of the architects of the European Union. Girard, on the other hand, is the mastermind behind Facebook and Paypal through his former student Peter Thiel–who freely admits using Girard’s ideas to extend the tentacles of his business ventures.

But I’m getting off track.

Titles are the frontline where writers fight for the attention of their readers. Consider some of these titles and tell me you don’t want to read what’s behind them: Violence and the SacredLiberal Fascism, From Zero to One, SilenceLost in the Cosmos, From Bauhaus to Our House, The Satanic Verses, The Man Without Qualities, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

These titles play, or prey, upon our curiosity by putting familiar notions taken out of context. That’s what piques your curiosity. That’s how clickbait works.

Italo Calvino’s novel about reading novels (I’m feeling really meta today), If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler observes this principle in action:

if on a winter's tale a traveler calvinoIn the shop window you have promptly identified the cover with the title you were looking for. Following this visual trail, you have forced your way through the shop past the thick barricade of Books You Haven’t Read, which were frowning at you from the tables and shelves, trying to cow you. But you know you must never allow yourself to be awed, that among them there extend for acres and acres the Books You Needn’t Read, the Books Made For Purposes Other Than Reading, Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong To The Category Of Books Read Before Being Written. And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of the Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered. With a rapid maneuver you bypass them and move into the phalanxes of the Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First, the Books Too Expensive Now And You’ll Wait Till They’re Remaindered, the Books ditto When They Come Out In Paperback, Books You Can Borrow From Somebody, Books That Everybody’s Read So It’s As If You Had Read Them, Too. Eluding these assaults, you come up beneath the towers of the fortress, where other troops are holding out:

the Books You’ve Been Planning To Read For Ages,

the Books You’ve Been Hunting For Years Without Success,

the Books Dealing With Something You’re Working On At The Moment,

the Books You Want To Own So They’ll Be Handy Just In Case,

the Books You Could Put Aside Maybe To Read This Summer,

the Books You Need To Go With Other Books On Your Shelves,

the Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified,

Now you have been able to reduce the countless embattled troops to an array that is, to be sure, very large but still calculable in a finite number; but this relative relief is then undermined by the ambush of the Books Read Long Ago Which It’s Now Time To Reread and the Books You’ve Always Pretended To Have Read And Now It’s Time To Sit Down And Really Read Them.

The cover design stinks, but the title grabs you.
The cover design stinks, but the title grabs you–click here.

Here’s is a ranked list of my best clickbait from this week:

  1. Pope Francis Unequivocally Condemns Florida Man’s Gay Bar Shooting Rampage
  2. Rene Girard: No, Christianity is Not a Religion of Peace!
  3. Sources Close to Orlando Shooter Confirm Omar Mateen Was Gay
  4. A Prayer for Omar Mateen
  5. The Orthodox Believer’s Tale of Jesus’s Wife
  6. Terrorism Has an Altruistic Logic
  7. EXCLUSIVE: Charges Against Baby Parts Video Activist Dismissed; Lawyer Discusses the Implications
  8. Girard: Islamic Extremism is Symmetrically Related to Western Wealth
  9. Why Speak of Theocracy in Poland When Confessional States Make up the Secular West?
  10. Did God Rape the Prophet Jeremiah

It seems appropriate to close this post and return to Father’s Day activities with the world’s most unusual anti-abortion song:

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