The strange beauty behind clickbait, and why it’s here to stay 👇

Hundreds of years ago, a single person could’ve read every English book in existence.

There just wasn’t that much to choose from. A reader could take their time choosing, and might even read through entire boring books. To be read, it was enough to be a writer — being good or bad probably didn’t make much difference.

Today, you can’t walk down the street without running into a brand new book.

Readers are flooded with choices, and that changes everything.

It’s not enough to write anymore — you also have to be chosen. And there’s so many choices, that these decisions are being made in fractions of a second.

Fast means intuitive.

Intuition uses mental shortcuts.

Mental shortcuts are often emotional.

And this is how we ended up here, staring down a world full of bold colors, dramatic statements, and promises to change your life in 3 quick, easy steps.

Ironically, it’s a sign that things have gone well.

The sheer abundance of choice has people doing everything possible to catch your attention in 0.3s, just so you’ll give them second look.

Books covers and titles get more eye-catching, cars get flashier, and software gets prettier. I spent longer on the first 1-2 sentences of this post than I’d honestly prefer to. But the existence of social media means you scroll through a lot of potential reading material.

We’ve collectively produced so much stuff, that we’ve forced people to return to rapid, gut-based decision-making.

As someone who’s spent a lot of time in dispassionate academic settings, I hate it.

But I’m also embracing it, because I’m convinced it couldn’t be any other way.