Click bait. It’s part of the bane of social media. Sensationalised headlines entice us to click through the curiosity gap to some linked article of (often) poor research and (regularly) high bias. Some of it’s harmless exaggeration, some of it’s fear-mongering, some of it’s an inadvertent portal for viruses and hackers.
The commonality is that it is effective. Many people will click through to any site, wanting the ‘latest’ news about events or celebrities; even when they know it’s likely a bad idea or a futile exercise.
Imagine if the Bible was presented as click bait? It could be entertaining, to be sure…
“Defiant Donkey Speaks To His Owner! His Response Will Shock You!” (Numbers 22.28-30)
“God’s Original Top Ten Countdown! You Won’t Believe #8” (Exodus 20.1-17)
“Skip The Gym—Long Hair May Be The Secret To Stronger Muscles!” (Judges 16.17-22)
“Doctor Shares Life-Saving Secret—You Have To See This!” (Luke 24)
“Cruise Holiday Horror Story—Read This Whale Of A Tale!” (Jonah 1.17)
“The Kiss Of Death? A Man You’ll Want To Avoid!” (Mark 14.43-46)
I expect we could all come up with a few creative one-liners.
So why don’t we?
Firstly, I posit that the Bible doesn’t need to be sensationalised the way the click bait does. We don’t need the quick content of half-hidden pictures and painful grammar. The bible provides us with quality writing—the style, linguistics, and formatting are great, and the content is literally out of this world.
Secondly, a long-lasting engagement with the material just doesn’t happen with click bait. That content can be forgotten before the next meal, and seldom starts any conversation of substance. The Bible, on the other hand, has stood the test of time, having been studied and discussed for millennia, a favourite throughout generations and appearing on bestseller lists.
Thirdly, authorship and purpose are important. Click bait tends to be user-generated, trying to make a name for themselves or generate income based on the sheer number of hits to the link. The Bible has been written by human hands conveying God’s message; the focus is on sharing the truth regardless of author popularity and readership numbers. (Though, I expect many click bait writers would *love* to have the readership and endurance that the bible enjoys!)
And fourthly, its authenticity. Click bait welcomes cynicism and skepticism; some folks glance at the headlines and roll their eyes as quickly as they scroll past. Too good to be true? It probably is. Too vague to be worthwhile? It probably is. The Bible, on the other hand, is full of writing so wonderful it doesn’t need to be exaggerated or cheapened in a taunting headline.
This list, too, could go on.
I propose, however, that our opportunity is to focus our own reading energy on things that matter—scripture being at the top of the list! Let’s choose not to get caught up and distracted by the latest link in our feed, and instead enjoy the shocking and dramatic reality of God’s great story.