Too often, viral news is a cheap, sensationalist waste of time.
Whether a woman is kidnapped in Ghana, shot and stabbed in Atlanta or someone asks someone “too personal,” media websites are currently made up of viral and click-hungry posts.
Last week, I decided to challenge myself and see if I could read all the headlines I knew to be bogus and still be surprised.
Some were less fake than others, but there were several stories I’d seen floating around my friends’ Facebook news feeds.
Out of 60 headlines I read, 41 were bogus. The ones that were real and not exaggerated were too numerous to mention.
The funny thing is I didn’t feel like I was trying too hard to trick myself into feeling shocked or angry.
I was just trying to read stuff I’d seen many times before.
Most viral news stories are simple and not worth much more than a scroll down my newsfeed. Recent riddle solutions like I Met a Man on The London Bridge get much attention among teenagers.
So I decided to go with my gut and see if I could only read three articles total that were genuinely bogus.
After a few hours of reading articles, I would guess that about 75 percent of those headlines were bogus.
Many viral news stories that are on the verge of being genuine are set up to get everyone to pay attention and see them as legitimate news stories.
The power of click-hungry news outlets is so real that they create fake stories just for the attention.
Some headlines could be real or fake, but the stories are still paid for and promoted to get people to pay attention.
When media outlets create viral news stories for the sake of a viral spread, I’m sure they know the headlines have little to no value.
That’s why they’re so much easier to read, even if I’m getting more worked up than I expected.
I’m not going to get on any high-horse here and say viral news shouldn’t be made.
I can easily see it’s a useful resource, especially when readers have the time to go through hundreds of headlines.
I’m also not saying fake news shouldn’t be called out.
It’s no good when people are fooled into thinking something is fake, even if it’s true.
I’ve known people in real life who tried to convince people they’d died just to make a news story or get clicks.
If you want to know what real viral news looks like, go to The Onion, The Daily Beast, and the Daily Mail.
They’re seriously funny. I also like to read the comments to viral news posts.
Maybe this is a bit of a weird way to judge things, but the comm enters’ rants almost always prove the stories are completely bogus.
I’m happy to pay for fake news if that means I don’t have to feel embarrassed or upset about clicking on it.
There are plenty of things I find infuriating, so it’s no surprise that the people who make fake viral news are also full of outrage and anger.
They’re angry that we’re posting thousands of social media posts and even having a sense of humour.
And yet, I can’t believe anyone cares what random people say about how they feel or what random opinions they have.
If people were offended by everything that happened in the news last week, the news would be full of negativity.
There would also probably be tons of nonsensical, angry video blogs to catch our attention, but again, I can’t complain about that.
Facts and opinions
Most of the news stories I read were filled with facts and opinions.
Sometimes the facts were hard to understand, but I couldn’t quite figure out how it didn’t matter if they were accurate.
Some opinions were viral. Maybe the writer was just trying to get attention to get more clicks, so I didn’t get mad at them.
I still felt personally victimized though, even if the facts weren’t accurate.
After a few hours, I still couldn’t believe how much anger and outrage was in the viral news world, and I was angry at myself for buying most of the headlines.
Perhaps some of it is legitimate, but a lot of it is manufactured for a viral spread.
That’s just how the internet works. If we’re going to spread news, we should spread accurate information that will help people understand and not get angry at.
There are plenty of reasons to be mad at the internet, but we can’t get angry if we can’t take our anger to the internet.
The internet has given us a wealth of information and helped us find some of the best people ever.
At the same time, we’ve opened the door to news that makes us mad or upset.
If we don’t recognize the source and point out what’s fake, we’ll be stuck in the angry news cycle forever.
That’s the internet. It’s a powerful tool, but it’s also just another thing that has an addictive quality to it