My amazing discovery about where rabbit holes come from

I’ve recently noticed a new (to me) kind of annoying clickbait that seems to be designed to see how long you are willing to read about nothing before you find the bit of information you clicked to get — or give up in frustration.

The headline might be, say, “What Paul McCartney really said when George Harrison wanted to leave the Beatles.” You click and find, not an anecdote about Harrison being dissatisfied and how McCartney responded, but a chronicle of how the Beatles were the most significant musical force of the 1960s, and it all started when McCartney met Harrison and John Lennon, and they started out calling themselves the Quarrymen, and one day after years of struggle they were kings of pop music and then they made movies and the hits just kept on coming.

Eventually you may read about what Paul really said when George wanted to quit — whenever that was. More likely you realize the writer and the website have been stringing you along because the longer you stay on the site, the better it looks for their analytics. These days, if the article doesn’t jump into the advertised subject almost immediately, I realize I’m on the edge of a rabbit hole and should flee at once.

I’m racing through a 1986 book called How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less. Author Milo O. Frank wrote about how making your point in 30 seconds is key because that’s the average person’s attention span. These 35 years later I suspect we’re down to 30 nanoseconds or less.

I’m grateful that you took a minute to read this. I can’t imagine wasting your click like that, and I hope that’s why you’ll come back tomorrow or sometime soon.

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