The day The Telegraph trolled me, aka, I pointed out on twitter that a Telegraph article was ageist and sensationalist, suspecting it aimed to attract traffic to the Telegraph’s website, and a social media representative from The Telegraph used Donald Trump’s standard reply to criticism: “Wrong”.
I wonder if journalism is dead. 2016 has been a weird (and traumatic) year in so many ways, including some media outlets becoming more obsessed with clickbait article titles and opinion rather than providing real information.
As I always do every morning, I check my twitter timeline to see what’s going on in the world. After the EU referendum and Donald Trump being elected President of the United States, I am feeling quite pessimistic about the future. I am on the wrong side of 40, I have experienced 3 economic recessions and I am seeing that some national newspapers are becoming each day more similar to tabloids. I am a news junkie and I need my daily fix to make sense of world events.
Anyway, in my twitter timeline I saw the title of an article accompanied by a picture of Madonna. The title implied that getting older was not OK. I fell into the clickbait trap and read it.
The article was from The Telegraph:
Forget Madonna’s wrinkly hands – these are the things that really show your age
I thought that, although the article’s intention was to be fun and light-hearted, the underlying tone was ageist.
Self-Deprecation or Ageism?
First of all, the made fun of Madonna’s appearance. Secondly, it implied that if you were over a certain age you should change your habits and keep up with younger people to avoid annoying them. Although the intention was to be a self-deprecating account of things that betray your age, the article suggested one should do her best to hide signs of ageing.
Therefore, I matched the sarcastic tone of the article and tweeted the following comment:
I am filing this article under: Clickbait Ageism.
This is the reply I received from The Telegraph:
Wrong on both counts I’m afraid!
Here’s a screenshot of the conversation:
Telegraph Taking Things Personally?
Replying “Wrong” to someone commenting is the same strategy that Donald Trump used with Hillary Clinton during the US election campaign. Saying “wrong” and not providing an explanation is pretty useless. Also, a media establishment becoming defensive with readers is rather unprofessional.
I am also concerned about the way the social media representative at The Telegraph took things personally (the use of “I’m afraid”). Who is hiding behind that twitter handle?
The article itself was only mildly entertaining so the use of a controversial title and of a picture of a celebrity was instrumental to get people to click on the link.
The article by Debora Robertson contained gems such as:
Hands, unlike infinitely lift-able, peel-able, Botox-able faces, are notoriously treacherous. To those who like to keep people guessing as to their real ages, the dowager digits will always give them away.
But it’s not just your hands that will betray your true vintage. Modern life is a veritable minefield of tiny slip ups and faux pas which, no matter how down with the kids you are (NB no one under 40 ever uses that phrase).
Never, under any circumstances, leave messages on people’s phones. No one under 30 ever does this.
By the way, I turned off the answerphone on my smartphone and unplugged my landline years ago. That doesn’t mean I want to look younger than my age (or want people to perceive me as younger than what my birth certificate says) but I have a penchant for written communications.
Here’s another gem:
(admitting to owning property is also massively ageing).
Yes, having a mortgage is ageing in the sense that it makes you very stressed, gives you sleepless nights and makes you worry constantly. However, the article implied that it is undesirable to be perceived as “old”.
Needless to say, I have unfollowed all Telegraph twitter accounts. I confess I completely fell into this clickbait trap and am not proud of myself. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even find amusement in the content of the article, which is a shame. I am filing this under: “The Day The Telegraph Trolled Me”.