A line from the 1934 Babes in Toyland came to mind recently: “Big bait catches big rat!” It’s a quote by the villain, Barnaby, after he successfully traps the two hapless heroes, Laurel & Hardy.
I’m reminded of that line almost every time I scroll through my social media feeds. You’ve probably seen them on your social media, too.
Posts that include a link and a description designed to reel us in:
- Shocker: “You’ll never believe what she did!”
- Righteous anger: “Classmates said she’s ugly. Click *like* to prove them wrong!”
- Tugs on our heart strings: “Help him get 1 million *likes* before he dies.”
- Too-good-to-be-true: “$75. Publix coupon off an $80. Purchase!”
These posts are called click bait because they’re designed as attractive bait to hook us into clicking on the link, taking us to another website. The sites may be designed to harvest names and email or Facebook addresses. Or the websites are peppered with ads from companies that pay for every click. Hence the name, click bait.
Click bait posts are deliberate efforts to manipulate and maneuver readers. Anything to cause us to click through to the desired site…which reminds me of another famous quote: “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV).
Temptation has been around long before the Internet. Its “hook” changes for each person and with each situation.
- Some of us are attracted to shocking or provocative images.
- Others justify anger and unforgiveness: “She deserves it for what she did!”
- Some easily fall prey to self-pity: “It’s not my fault I was tempted!”
- Still others think they can play with fire and not get burned: “One time won’t hurt.”
The Bible reminds us that “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (James 1:14 NIV). The Greek word for “enticed” is actually a fishing term that means to catch with bait.
So what entices you, not just on the Internet, but in daily life, too? Where are you and I most susceptible to click bait…and what will we do to recognize that the bait is attached to a hook?
The next time you’re tempted to click, pause. Ask yourself if you’re being set up to be reeled in…either virtually or in real life. Then step away from the bait!