So how many of you are actually reading this article? Probably only a few of you have clicked on this link to read these words. Am I right?
Well, let’s admit it, we all are guilty of doing this! How often have we just read a headline of an article and have liked, shared or commented without even bothering to go through the entire piece. Many a times, right?
This superficial aspect of our personality was pointed out by Science Post in an article which amassed more than 47,000 shares. Ironically wondering how many of those 47K people actually read the piece before sharing?
Well, now a new study by Columbia University further validates Science Post’s satirical report which says 59 % of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked, according to a report by Chicago Tribune. Putting it simply, only 4 out of 10 people who have shared this particular ScoopWhoop article will read this sentence.
Yes, because most of us just retweet share news/articles without ever reading it and just rely on their headlines to form opinions.
Why is this important?
These studies depict the tremendous role that that the headline and summaries of articles play. Honestly, headlines are the true bosses because they both generate shares and encourage clicks. That’s why majority of news channels/online publications now stick to click-bait headlines which are sometimes clever, often misleading, and very distracting.
Also with social media pervading every corner of our life, we can have any information at our fingertips. But at the same time, it has also resulted in propagating decontextualized, inaccurate, or even false information which, in turn, could shape collective opinions and agendas.
This is how the study was conducted:
The researchers came to this conclusion by collecting the analytics provided by shortened bit.ly links from five major news sites. After combining this data, the researchers found a map to how news goes viral on Twitter and much to their surprise this ‘viral’ news is very much shared, but not read at all. And that’s pretty unfortunate!
What does it tell us?
The study prompts us to be more alert news consumers instead of being irresponsible over-sharers. It tells us that there is just no correlation between what stuff gets shared and what is actually read. We constantly depend on half baked information rather than attempting to go deep. Thus it puts a big question mark on our lack of critical thinking when it comes to sharing stories.
The study also suggests that the predominance of shallow, performative sharing helps create an environment of uninformed debate and trolling, all making no sense ultimately. Because if we are just reading only the surface-level information, it’s easy to miss the actual point about a story.