Blank Links

I was on the road when I read it and randomly posted the link to my Facebook page. It landed as a raw link: no meta-data pulled in. Just a link. I think that’s why more people picked up on it and reshared it. 


(The story the link goes to? Well, I have a LOT of thoughts on it.)

It’s probably because I don’t have the Facebook app on my phone. I haven’t for a while. Although I did enjoy having the supplemented contact information, I’ve attempted to release my grip on the applications that offer bottomless bowls of content.

So, the link showed up as, well “Blank” – maybe that’s the right word or term? A blank link showed up as I was trying to share the story by copying the URL over on my phone through Facebook on a browser. If I had used the Facebook app, it might have pulled through the metadata.  

This metadata is what the publishers want you to see because a study somewhere showed that people are more likely to click on it.


I don’t think that’s the truth anymore.

So this story is in two parts:

For the first: that link got quite a bit of feedback. It was shared around significantly more than other things. Of course, the link was about not consuming so much news this year, and everyone I knew was still off work at the office or was in that “I swear I’m going to make resolutions this year” hangover.

The second part: about a week later I’m out dinner with a group of friends. The lady sitting next to me, not exactly a friend – but familiar. Scrolled through Facebook as we waited for the check. I was nosy, her feed was full of political updates from her friends. A link posted, all of the metadata pulled through, a quick quote of frustration. And she…well, she didn’t click through on anything. She read the caption, then picked one of those emojis that let you “not like” something. A grumpy face.

A reaction formed without the full wealth of information. Her reaction and opinion developed by a few tidbits of information that were given to the feed and added to the pile of responses that were building up underneath the post. All of this, done without a close reading of the content through the link.

I get it, it’s really hard to go through the infinite amount of information that is thrown our way.

A blank link at least forces us to commit to reviewing something before commenting on it.

So maybe, then, we go back to blank links? After all, when something is presented without any context at all, then maybe we can create a more natural context for ourselves?

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One comment on “Blank Links

  1. Paul Merrill says:

    I’m commenting on this post. It seemed the right thing to do, in light of the context of the post.

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