By Jack Price-Darbyshire, Third Year Politics and Philosophy
Clickbait culture is encouraging the portrayal of vegans and feminists as irrational extremists. This is dangerous for our future, as these movements should be a part of it.
You don’t have to look far to find numerous articles stating things like “Woman Pours Bleach and Water on Men’s Groins to Stop ‘Manspreading’” or “Pie and mash shop closes after 128 years ‘because of vegans’” in order to demonise feminists and vegans alike in the hope of getting a few extra reads.
This is then normally followed with comments from outraged people screaming about Generation Snowflake bringing the West to its knees.
These articles are often groundless and just put forward stereotypes that are untrue for most vegans and feminists, but rumours that many people dogmatically buy into.
The problem is this constant misrepresentation in the media justifies to many people their opinions that these two groups are inhabited solely by crazy, illogical, radicals. This allows people to conclude, without any real research into the topic, that they are ‘normal’ and ‘sensible’, surrounded in a world full of ‘social justice warriors’ mad with ‘political correctness’. We are at the point in which many won’t even listen to rational arguments anymore, because the stereotype is too ingrained to remove.
Of course, there is always going to be a backlash when large groups of people question the status quo. The patriarchy and eating meat have existed for centuries, and obviously people do not like having their sensibility questioned. However, what I find most annoying is how certain media outlets are feeding into this backlash just to have a few more people read their articles.
This creates the problem that many people ignore rational arguments from vegans and feminists, almost treating the words as taboo. Articles like the ones I have mentioned allow people to argue that vegans and feminists are forcing their opinions down everyone’s throat, when, most feminists and vegans would happily talk and debate with you in a calm reasonable way, with points they can back up. In other words, most can discuss without once shouting that you are a murderer or a sexist.
this constant misrepresentation in the media justifies to many people their opinions that these two groups are inhabited solely by crazy, illogical, radicals.
Obviously, the sensationalism around feminists and vegans in the media comes down to the fact that print journalism is struggling with the question of “how do I get someone to read my article”. However, is it actually so important that journalism is kept alive at all costs, if all integrity is removed in the process?
Surely newspapers and articles are meant to promote freedom of speech and provide valid opinions on complicated topics to encourage debate and inform people. Sure, this does not create necessarily interesting reads, but important issues do not necessarily have to be interesting for them to be relevant.
Ultimately, if the only way newspapers are to survive is through endless clickbait articles buying into sensationalism, then I would argue it’s not worth it surviving at all.
Featured Image: Unsplash/Miika Laaksonen