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Historical Clickbait

Clickbait has been around for a while now, but it’s so prominent in 2017 that we’ve all pretty much caught on to it. We’ve come to expect things on our news feed that claim to show us something we ‘won’t believe’, but only show us something we’ve known for years. We can guess that videos which will supposedly ‘amaze’ us, will actually only leave us wondering ‘was that it?’ And it’s pretty predictable that any headline suggesting a celebrity row on TV will actually just be a flat out lie about an obviously scripted bit of ‘banter’.

When things are not being exaggerated, even stories that are blatantly true get the clickbait treatment. In the past months several websites have given us headlines about how the actor who plays Pennywise in IT ‘looks very different in real life’, as though it were remotely possible that the crazed clown he portrays in the film represented his natural look.

We’re so used to it by now that you might even click on a piece of clickbait just to see how big a lie the headline actually is, and earlier this year a bookstore even used the cultural trend as an ironic marketing tool, when they used clickbait descriptions to advertise classic books.

Perhaps strangest of all is when clickbait headlines are used when the story would be interesting and appealing enough on its own merits. With that in mind, Way out West have chosen eight famous moments and events from history, and imagined what headlines they might have generated in the clickbait era.

1.You won’t believe what these people found in a giant wooden horse!

The Trojan Horse is the famous tale of how the Greeks managed to sneak into the city of Troy and win a war that had been going on for over ten years. Apparently the Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse and hid a selection of soldiers inside it. Then the Trojans pulled the horse into their gated city, thinking it was a victory gift, and that night the Greek soldiers crept out of it and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army to enter, after which they destroyed the city, ending the war. The Simpsons explain it better…

2. He was aiming for Japan, but what this man found instead will amaze you!

In 1492 Christopher Columbus discovered America, having led his three ships – the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria – out of the Spanish port of Palos with the original objective to sail west until he reached Asia, where the riches of gold, pearls and spice awaited. It was essentially a voyage into the unknown, after which Europeans began to explore and settle in America.

3. Winston Churchill has been hanging out with a few new friends and people really aren’t sure what to make of it!

In February 1945, Winston Churchill met with US President, Frankin D. Roosevelt and head of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin, in an attempt to discuss Europe’s postwar reorganisation. The Yalta Conference, as it was called, became a subject of intense controversy.

4. An apple fell on this scientists head. What he’s saying about it will blow your mind!

It’s fair to say we take gravity for granted these days as something that’s pretty well understood, but Isaac Newton was one of the key scientists who first explained how it worked. Newton himself said that he was inspired to formulate his theory of gravitation by watching an apple fall from a tree.

5. Thou have to see what this guy has discovered: Ten things your God secretly hates!

The famous old testament story: while the Jews were wandering in the desert between Egypt and Israel, Moses received a message from God telling him to go up to the top of Mount Sinai, where God gave him two stone tablets listing the Ten Commandments.

6. Watergate-gate! A seemingly random robbery has forced President Nixon to do something incredible!

The political scandal that led the way for how scandals as we know them now were reported, introducing the famous habit of adding the word ‘gate’ to anything remotely controversial.

The Watergate scandal began on June 17, 1972, when several burglars were arrested in the office of the Democratic National Committee, located in the Watergate complex of buildings in Washington, D.C. The burglars were connected to President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign, and they had been caught wiretapping phones and stealing documents. Nixon took steps to cover up the crime afterwards, but in August 1974, after his role in the conspiracy was revealed, he resigned.

7. It was at this point that he’d had enough. Manchester United Star’s crazy reaction after one fan pushed him too far!

Some things seep into our understanding of something or someone so much that it’s hard to imagine what the reaction must have been when it first happened. For many of us who know Eric Cantona, it’s hard to pinpoint when we first learned of this moment of madness that came as part of his otherwise glittering Manchester United career. But imagine what the reaction would have been on social media had Facebook and Twitter been around when the Manchester United Captain Kung-fu kicked a supporter.

8. This new invention is capable of housing and sharing every piece of information in human history. You’ll never guess what people are using it for!

26 years ago, Sir Tim Berners-Lee opened the World Wide Web to all who wished to access it. The World Wide Web, though not always easy to explain, allows instant access to content and information, meaning people can communicate across the world.

Originally developed to allow automatic information-sharing between scientists in universities and institutes around the world, the World Wide Web now means we live in a world where we wait for nothing, be it information, communication with friends and family, deliveries of online shopping, or work. It has granted us access to almost everything, whether by means of instant information or online ordering.

Perhaps a bit strange then that so much of it is used for trolling and looking at pictures of cats. Oh, and click bait of course.

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