Adam Sternbergh from New York magazine takes on the concept of “The Perfect Response”:
[T]he Perfect Response you cheer for and re-post frantically also tends to be one that (a) confirms whatever you already believe and (b) sticks it to someone you already despise. The Perfect Response is, in essence, not a radical new perspective, but simply a person saying a thing you agree with to a person you disagree with. It’s a kind of linguistic record-scratch, a perfectly crafted gotcha that ostensibly stops trolls in their troll-tracks and forces them to deeply reconsider the sad wreckage of their wasted lives. Which means the Perfect Response is also largely a figment of the internet’s imagination.
I agree with most of what Sternbergh writes here – that an actual “Perfect Response” is essentially so rare as to make its sharing more like an act of wishful thinking.
But I think this headline format has really taken form primarily because of sharing sites like Facebook and Twitter, something that Sternbergh acknowledges. A “Perfect Response” is simply more interesting and attention grabbing than “A Really Good Response” or “An Adequate Response.” Publishers often need to exaggerate to get attention on your News Feed these days.
My question is: What is next in the Internet arms war for attention? What happens when Upworthy-style headlines are so common that all they receive in response is an indifferent shrug?