Or like, two ways: lists and gifs.
A long time ago, somebody figured out that a list is the best thing on the internet. Readers like lists because they are easy to read and writers like lists because they don’t require very much writing. No transitions, continuity or proper sentence structure needed! Just ejaculate and publish.
Studies show that a list is read and shared 1000% more than articles of the traditional paragraph variety (source). And if there’s a number in the title, you will receive 5000% more clicks. (source, source). And if it’s an odd number like 17 or 101, your clicks increase by 10000% (source, source, source).
And so just like everything else on the internet, once the word got out about lists, average bloggers and two-bit content aggregators wasted no time manipulating, perverting, raping them to death and completely ruining them.
And now you can’t read anything on the internet without having to click at least 40 times, and 99% (source) of blog posts are a hectic clutter of arbitrary numbered items.
Babble is one of those sites that has taken the concept of the list and done that whole manipulate-pervert-rape-ruin thing I mentioned above. You typically have to click 10 times to read articles that are 500 words long. (And if you’re wondering what the hell I’m doing reading Babble blogs, read this post.)
Another, more nefarious example is this site that I stumbled upon while wasting an obnoxious amount time searching for a very specific movie still that I NEEEEDED for a really important blog post. Each list has no less than 50 items (50 greatest Iron Man moments? There were FIFTY??) and you have to click to see each subsequent item. (And this is off-topic, but you get a pop-up ad every time you click on a new article and really, pop-ups? That is some 2001 shit.)
I probably clicked on eight things before I got angry and bounced. But you know what? I bet nobody clicks that many things on MY site before they get angry and bounce. So maybe TotalFilm.com has the right idea. I should probably create a really dumb site with just a schizophrenic jumble of shit to click on and a fuckload of ads and then just sit back and watch the money roll in. It doesn’t even matter if the content is valuable or insightful because CLIIIIIIIICKS.
Now here comes the grand mal: animated gifs!!!1! Don’t get me wrong, I love gifs. There is nothing that helps me describe the way I’m feeling without me having to be original or thoughtful like an animated gif. But if you’re going to commit to a 54 item list with gifs, they better ALL be brilliant. If even one of them is stupid, I’m sad.
I used to link to animated gifs, absurd memes and barely-relevant videos because I figured the approach rewarded those who clicked on the link (and thus proved themselves truly deserving of my humor) and didn’t alienate those who didn’t want distractions, gimmicks or seizures.
But then I realized I was directing traffic away from my own site and nobody was clicking on the links anyway (fucking ingrates). This was around the time (circa 2011) that I started seeing a lot of bloggers punctuating their posts with animated absurdities so I figured it must not be that distracting/gimmicky/seizure-inducing, and I gave in and started doing it too. It’s not any more or less distracting/gimmicky/seizure-inducing than the inordinate amount of selfies some of you people are posting, and on most days I only look slightly better than that image of the rotting carcass I posted anyway. What I’m saying is you’re lucky you’re getting gifs and not all kinds of selfies.
I guess I don’t have any point to make other than, you know, I’m onto you, Internet.