How the Big Bang Theory helped me work out why I dislike clickbait

I’m a fan of the Big Bang Theory – both the cosmological model of the Universe (my degrees are in astrophysics) and the television comedy.

The following is from the latter. It’s an exchange between Stuart, the owner of a comic book store, and Sheldon Cooper, eccentric super-geek:

Stuart: Here, Sheldon, I pulled the new Hellboy for you. It’s mind-blowing.

Sheldon: Excuse me, spoiler alert.

Stuart: I didn’t spoil anything.

Sheldon: You told me it’s mind-blowing, so, my mind is going into it pre-blown. And once a mind is pre-blown, it cannot be re-blown.

It sums up my feelings about a lot of social media posts particularly the clickbait of Twitter and Facebook – “This enchanting story will leave you consumed by an intense feeling of warm fluffiness” or “This video is so funny you’ll laugh yourself senseless” or “They filled the radiators with cola. You’ll never guess what happened next!”.

Much more often than not I don’t like them. I’ve been trying to work out why.

The fact-feature-benefit (or feature-advantage-benefit) model is well-known to sales professionals. It has its analogue in communications broadly. The aim being to maximise the discussion of benefit – often, specifically, an emotional benefit.

Surely, this should work for “You will feel good after clicking the link and consuming the content”?

Maybe it’s the difference between discovering a reaction from a start point of zero, and calibrating a reaction against what I’ve been told it will be?

Or, to use Sheldon’s word, I don’t like my mind “pre-blown”.

There’s a good discussion of some of this at Come to think of it, you may dislike it. So, perhaps I should say that I found the discussion good?!

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