It has been so long since I blurted out a few of there things spinning around in my brain, without really trying to make much sense. Can I do that for a bit? Today I was killing time in the river while my latest Youtube uploaded (I should have been working, but my entire computer shuts down for six hours whilst I’m uploading a Youtube video!) thinking about how hard it is to create stuff on the internet and then feel completely out of control of whether people will even SEE it, and how far I’m willing to go to get my stuff seen.
I began thinking about how the internet could be better organised so that the screaming clickbait didn’t drown out the thoughtful polemics.
Imagine if the internet was sorted like a library. Alphabetical surnames. You could turn up at the exact point in the aisle and see all the works by your one favourite writer, or you could run your fingers along the spines and select something because of the hot pink typeface. It’d be orderly and calm but you would have to sneak your snacks in, which is a bit of bummer. Also, you’d probably get people changing their names so they could get their blogs seen. Everyone would be Aaamelia Aaaardvark.
They’d have to put an end to that.
Perhaps it could be organised alphabetically by online business name. It would be like the phone book, where there are a million business that have come up with a name that begins with numbers and a letter A. 1234AAAXylophone Makers!
That wouldn’t be any better I suppose.
I don’t really have any suggestions for The Internet. (I’d love to know who I’m talking to when I say The Internet.)
But I do have suggestions for Creators. (That is what The Internet calls people like me – who write and make videos and generally post things online.)
And that is – put your content in the title and trust that people who want to read it will read it!
I try to keep to this, although I know there have been times where I’ve put something really WOWZERY!!! in the title in the hope people will get an important message about connecting with their kids. (See The One Word You Need To Be A Positive Parenting Whizz.) (Oh and there was also YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT SHE TURNED THIS BREADBIN INTO hahahahahahahah – I mean, for reals, can you Adam and Eve it??!!!)
If we were all really clear about what we were putting out there in the world I feel like the internet would be much easier to navigate! We’d be less drawn in to time wasting things and we’d have more time to read about the areas of learning we WANT to read, or we’d have more of a chance of actually getting OFF the internet and watching clouds float along a blue sky.
I really don’t want to be responsible for sending someone into unfulfilling internet rabbit holes instead of poking sticks into real life rabbit holes with their children and all the joy that comes of that.
It’s not an easy vow to keep.
And I consciously break it these days on one of my platforms.
The big gnarly underworld of Youtube.
Places like Youtube massively reward clickbait. They don’t even care what is inside the video, they just care how many people are clicking the video. So here is where I drop my ethical code somewhat. My Youtube video titles seem clickbait-y. I try and make people want to click them. But here is the difference – clickbait doesn’t ever deliver, whereas I try REALLY hard to. The content of my video is relevant to the title and I bust my gut to try and make sure the content of the video is good quality…
Exhibit A, today’s video:
Youtube is a bit of a mess. And if creators want their videos to be seen by people they have to play by Youtube’s messy rules.
I also figure that if people are hanging about on Youtube already, I am not driving them away from stuff they really want to be doing with their lives by having them check out my video! I hope that they will click because they think WTF? And then they get a big ole lesson in normalising breastfeeding!
I’m not apologising, I’m trying to be conscientious about my clickbait code. But I am justifying myself to you, because I care about you and the relationship we have in this little internet community.
When it comes to myself as a consumer and participant of The Internet, I try hard to curate the things that come into my view. I have got rid of my Facebook Feed and now only use the groups I am a part of to see what they are reading and doing. I use Pocket Hits to read the latest long form and once a week I read all the news on the Guardian. I use my subscribe page on Youtube, and have bookmarked my favourite blogs. All this means I don’t have swarms of information coming at me every day. It’s not perfect – it also means I might miss some important stuff and am less likely to find a new creator to fall in love with.
I’d love to hear from you. How do you navigate a clickbaity world? Do you have a way of steering clear of things that are irrelevant to you or time wasting? Does curating your internet so rigidly like I try to mean we’ll just end up in big echo chambers?