Urban Dictionary defines clickbait as “an eyecatching link on a website which encourages people to read on.”
Missing from that definition is the often intentionally deceptive nature of clickbait headlines. The example given by Urban Dictionary is the hypothetical “President Obama loves KKK!?” When clicked on, the link takes the user to an article highlighting Obama’s fondness for Krispy Kreme Krullers.
Now that the stage is set, we can move on to my candidate for clickbaitiest headline ever. The focus of the headline is New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who had a dreadful game against the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship two weeks ago that dashed his team’s hopes of returning to the Super Bowl.
In light of all that, consider this headline that appeared yesterday on the Boston Globe’s website boston.com: “A Super debate with a clear-cut answer: Brady needs to go.”
Here are the opening paragraphs of the story that follows:
Let’s see if we can put this situation into some perspective in order to weed out the reactionary nature of our peripheral decision-making process.
So, you’re invited to a party. A big one. Let’s say for the sake of argument that Larry Bird and Bobby Orr will both also be attending, and are, personally, expecting you to hang out with them.
But what if the party is being hosted by your ex-girlfriend, the same one who continues to post daily messages on Facebook about how you cheated on her in your waning days as a couple? You have vociferously denied her allegation, but the majority of those attending seem to believe her, while you have to confide in your closest group of friends about your innocence.
That’s the scenario in which New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady finds himself.