When you log onto Facebook, what do you see? I see a lot of shared links, videos, and photos of good times. I also see this:
“You will never believe what they found in ____!”
and… “What this man finds inside the ____ will shock you!”
and… “Here are the reasons why you are still _____.”
There is a term for articles titled this way; its called clickbait. I’m sure you are no stranger to them either.
Usually, when we encounter it, it seems no more than just annoying articles that may or may not be as interesting as they claim to be in the headlines. Scroll on.
But, there is something else going on in the world. News outlets are losing their viewership. And newspapers are losing relevancy. Some compensate for the lack of sales with increased prices–some go out of business.
News is often covered by blog articles or heated statuses on Facebook. But there are so many of them, you don’t know which one you should go to for details… so you look at all of them. Occasionally, you’ll find a new tidbit of information to add onto the knowledge you have about something. But other times, you’ll find articles with conflicting beliefs; “Why you should do strength training,” and “Why you should stay away from strength training.” It becomes hard to figure out what is opinion and what is backed by research.
Why? Because information has gotten cheap.
When you see clickbait, the websites are not looking to teach you something new, but they are competing with others for clicks. The more visitors, the more money you can bring in through advertisements.
With so many people owning mobile devices, it becomes much more easier to scroll through the news right away, than to go to the newsstand or grocery store to pick up a physical copy, or wait for the newspaper to thud against your door.
People are looking towards writing jobs so that they can earn some money on the side… but so are millions of other people. Because anyone can start a blog. Anyone can write something interesting to at least one other person. What started off as “I’m a good writer, so people will read my stuff” becomes, “What can I write about that will get me more viewers? Something controversial? Should I exaggerate some things? Lie a little?” because there are so many people fighting for your audience.
Now, it is easier than ever to learn about the topic of your choosing. This, in itself, is a blessing. But I think it misleads a lot of people (especially millennials like myself) into thinking that doing a side job of blogging will bring in some nice cash when they’d actually be hard pressed. Because simply writing interesting stuff is not enough. You have to think outside of the box, look into the lost “arts”.
Rather than follow the swarm of humans bustling towards a common opportunity, try looking for the path not taken, or at least, less trampled. There’ll be more scenery for you to enjoy and you might just find something special–something that, with your abilities, you can turn into something valuable.
This message is more of a message to myself than to anyone in particular, but maybe it will offer you some inspiration. Because by going along with the flow of a huge tsunami, you’ll find that once it crashes, there isn’t much to see. It’s like in those massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG); eventually, everyone knows the secret location to a treasure trove–then it gets gutted of its valuables.
So rather than doing things just because many other people have found success in them (ex. university students over-saturating the medicine/dentistry markets, people writing books about popular but unoriginal ideas, and aiming to be the next Instagram girl scouted to be a model), I think it’s better to look around more carefully. With critical and innovative thinking, you will be able to find out what this world needs or would like.
What could I create to help people suffering from poor mental health?
What product or service can I create to counter the effects of a market that makes a profit off of pointing out physical flaws in women and romantic/financial insecurities in men?
How can I address the problem of ever-growing landfills by making recycling easy enough to prevent it?
These are all questions that currently do not have answers, because everyone is chasing the same “tried-and-true” opportunities. I’m going to start thinking… and I hope you do too! Because this world, in truth, still has major problems and more to come with the way things are going now.