Reaction Porn

There’s a trend out there. And it’s getting worse. And you might be addicted to it without even knowing.

I call it Reaction Porn. Reaction porn is mental masturbation where you get fired up about something as if you really have a vested interested that is actually impossibly unrelated to your daily life.

Reaction porn is gratifying to a certain degree. But it’s ultimately empty and dumb and you know it. But you just keep going back for more because the headlines are just too good to not click on.

Reaction Porn is Big Business

Believe me. People writing reaction porn are absolutely targeting you. Pageviews. Shares. Comments. Pissing people off is big business. 

You can take any benign news story and get more traffic by applying an attention getting headline that begs liking, sharing, and reacting. It’s 100% gaming social media. And it 100% works. 

A sign that you are addicted to it is that you find yourself compulsively scouring news and social feeds for the next things to set you off. You are caught in a ravenous search to read things or watch videos which shock you, cause you to react, and you find yourself going back to the story over and over again.

Sites like Buzzfeed are gateways to it. Soft core Reaction Porn. Reddit is another source. There’s actually an entire cottage industry of this stuff.

The bait with Reaction Porn is the title. The hook is the image that shows up on your feed. They are designed specifically to get you to do one thing: React.

If you click on the link. If you like the article. If you favorite it or retweet it. They win.

And you? Well, you’re just the mark. Now your feed will get more reaction porn.

How to Create Reaction Porn

Here’s three benign headlines rewritten for Reaction Porn junkies.

Reaction Porn headline:

Obama’s Secret Strategy Leaked to Change Banking Forever

white-house-secrets-revealed

Real headline: 

Senate Confirms Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve Chair – via National Public Radio

457093747_wide-49650996f516de7364648091c215f20316b5c296-s40-c85

Reaction Porn headline:

Todd Gloria’s Plan to Spend $900 Million

San Diego Acting Mayor Todd Gloria

Real headline: 

San Diego Sidewalk Assessment Prepares to Hit the Streets – via KPBS.org

44795531514_t614

Reaction portn headline:

The Worst Thing About IBM’s Bad Earnings Report? China – via CNBC

101119672-IBM.530x298

Real headline:

The Worst Thing About IBM’s Bad Earnings Report? China 

101119672-IBM.530x298

See what I did there?

I just used reaction porn to get you to read about reaction porn.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

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