You are probably well aware of what a clickbait headline is. They're everywhere, and the Internet is saturated with them, many of them the headlines of different media like articles and videos. If you don't know what a clickbait is, according to Merriam-Webster, it's something (such as a headline) designed to make to make readers want to click on a hyperlink, especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.
If you are reading this, you just fell for one.
Why am I writing about clickbait headlines? Well, I've been writing for a while, and I quickly learned that no matter how good the content may be, it can easily be buried under the sheer magnitude of competing works and overshadowed by flashier and potentially more interesting topics. You could put your heart and soul into an article and get barely 20 views while another article on breadsticks starts to trend (not that those articles weren't awesome).
Clickbait headlines get an article noticed - gets it the attention it deserves. A good headline can make an article stand out. A clickbait headline gets potential readers interested enough to check it out. So it does play an important role. However, for all the good they can do, clickbait also has its downsides.
A good clickbait headline gains the right attention, but an ill-worded one can cause the potential audience to misconstrue the true purpose or meaning of their article. A bad clickbait headline can ostracize a writer from their own work and distort their message, alienating them from their intended audience because of the misrepresentation of their intent.
A bad clickbait headline is often either drastically inaccurate about what is being presented or focuses on the wrong part of an article or a smaller point. If an article is grossly off, it won't garner the attention the writer wanted. Even slight inaccuracies can have unexpected consequences. Potential readers may choose not to read it and may form an unfounded opinion about the content's message or the writer's stance on a topic.
Sometimes, as implied before, not all clickbait headlines are created by the writer themselves, though many content creators do generate their own clickbait, so if a writer finds that an altered title doesn't do their article justice or feels that it gives off the wrong message, they may be less inclined to promote it despite the effort they put into it.
I'm not saying we should do away with clickbait headlines. Like I said before, clickbait can play a significant role as long as they are used well, balancing the proper representation of the content while still being attention-grabbing and engaging. The intent of the writer should be apparent and, if not exactly clear, confirmed.