The Parables of the Internet


I love clickbait, by which I mean all those stories designed to tug at a heartstring, either to make you cry at the dark parts of life or to rejoice in the bright parts.

“Snopes it, it’s all fake,” say the cynics.

To which I say, “So what?”

We see true stories all day, every day in our 24-hour news cycle. We watch the bombs exploding and the riots developing and the pollutants billowing into our environment. In fact we see these so much, and on such a broad scale, that we become desensitized.

“It’s just another destroyed village.”

“It’s just another oil spill.”

“It’s just another shooting.”

It’s horrifying, is what it is.

In a world where we see hardly anything worthwhile or inspiring, where the “upbeat topic” for the day is a parrot that can waterski, we need that clickbait. It gives us hope. It keeps us compassionate. It keeps us human.

We become numb to the plights of humanity at large, so clickbait gives us the plight of one, it personifies it, it gives it a face and a name and a story we can care about. And as any good story does, it makes us feel. We need to remember how to feel.

The story of the cancer patient who placed a sign on her window and had strangers bringing her pizza and singing to her. The story of the dog that not only saved his owner’s life, but the lives of countless others on 9/11. The story of the Syrian girl who fought through a terrorist regime and an immigration nightmare only to be denied access to freedom from fear. The teenager that invented a device so that someone with a disability can feel able again. These stories are important, whether they’re true or not.

Think of them as parables. Think of them as motivation. Think of them as goals. Because if we can be more like the good, kind, hardworking, caring people in these stories, then the world can fully become the beautiful, harmonious place that we see through them.

Read clickbait. Feel something. Stay human.