Shinra Inc. And Clickbait
by: Jason Tandro
Ever since Rufus had taken on the role of Vice President, coming out of his forced retirement to make ends meets, he'd found himself with a surprising amount of free time. [Author's Note: See Shinra Inc. And AR Games] Most people with such a demanding schedule would find themselves actually working , but Rufus figured as he never did anything back when he was President, as Vice President he should do even less. Philosophically and mathematically perplexing as this attitude was it nevertheless seemed to occupy Rufus's primary motivation and so long as he kept to himself most of the others didn't seem to care.
This made the sight of Rufus sitting at his desk urgently clicking through his web browser not terribly alarming on most days. But the fact that he appeared to be reading something rather than playing games or watching porn caught Scarlet by surprise.
"Hey Rufus. Dare I ask but are you actually doing work?" She asked tentatively.
"In a manner of speaking," Rufus replied, distractedly.
"In what manner of speaking?"
"In the manner that I am not creating more work for the company to do. A gil saved is a gil earned," Rufus countered.
"Breaking out proverbs to justify your slacking," Scarlet sighed. "You are the Buddha of Bullshit."
"And you are the Cthulu of Cun- wait a minute," Rufus trailed off as he stumbled upon something particularly juicy.
"Wait a second, finish that title, Rufus," Scarlet demanded.
Rufus, as always, ignored her. "Have you seen this headline? Apparently there is proof that Reeve is behind a new chemical weapon that the mainstream media is ignoring."
"Okay, you're reading a tabloid or something?" Scarlet asked, moving over to Rufus and looking over his shoulder.
"Nope, this just popped up on my MyFace account. Seemed pretty intriguing," Rufus explained.
"Rufus, this is fake news. It's stuff that some neckbeard wrote to get you to click on his website so he earns ad revenue," Scarlet replied.
Rufus nodded. "That would explain why 75% of the screen is covered in ads suggesting that I might have an inadequate penis."
"That's probably true," Scarlet quipped.
"Bitch, if you saw me at 'full mast' you would be on the floor," Rufus shot back.
"Yeah, laughing," Scarlet retorted and before Rufus could defend himself further she returned to the topic at hand. "Why do you bother clicking on stuff like this?"
"Well the article seemed intriguing."
Scarlet clicked back and noticed the headline: You Won't Believe What President Tuesti Is Hiding From The Public.
"Yeah that's called 'clickbait' buddy. There's nothing news worthy here. They just word these things in such a way that your brain has to find out what's going on. Your dysfunctional human brain clicks to solve the puzzle and they reap the rewards," Scarlet said.
"So you're saying I could get a WordPress and just write anything I want, inundate the thing with ads and start making money for basically no effort?"
"Right. Or you could continue to draw a salary while doing nothing remotely close to working."
"Oh I'll be working now, Scarlet. Using this clickbait I will make millions – nay billions of gil back. And once I have all my money again I will take this company back over. It should be easy after I expose Reeve's horrible crimes to the public," Rufus explained.
"That's still fake, Rufus."
"But does the public know? You see that's the difference between Reeve and I. Reeve controls the company through prudent investments and a good employer-employee relationship. I will control the company using fear!"
"I feel like we've had a conversation very similar to this before," Scarlet pondered.
-*-Shinra Inc. & -*-
Over the course of the next week Rufus was alarmingly hard at work – but alas not an inch of effort was dedicated to the job for which he was actually being paid. Scarlet hadn't bothered to warn Reeve of Rufus's asinine plan mostly because she thought it was completely harmless, but a more mercenary side of her thought it would just be plain funny to watch him fail privately before his sins were inevitably exposed to the public.
In truth she worried a bit that she was becoming as heartless and cynical as the comments on her MyFace page (and her body count) suggested. But then again, it was hard to be too concerned when you had a high paying job where you got to design weapons of mass destruction and test them out on people you hate.
"Scarlet!" Rufus called in what he thought was a stage whisper but which came out more like the raspy cry of a madman. "Come here."
She brushed her hair to the side and took up her post behind him, watching the flurry of noise and color on Rufus's screen.
"What fresh hell is this?" Scarlet asked.
"I give you... RufusNet! The number one web source for things that probably didn't happen. Every page is set to display a, frankly, impractical number of ads. We have ads within ads. We have ads that look like they are part of the news story but actually lead to a different story where you will find more ads," Rufus explained. "We also have those top 10 lists where each item is on a separate page."
"Oh that's a low blow," Scarlet hissed.
"There's just one thing I didn't expect. A lot of people are taking my stories seriously and demanding action be taken about various things. I mean don't get me wrong, I love the shares – it means more clicks and more gil. But... well some guy created a petition to get rid of the Goblin's Bar," Rufus explained, clicking back onto his MyFace account and showcasing a post which, at best, abused the privilege of Caps Lock.
"Why are they trying to get rid of it?" Scarlet asked.
"I may have suggested that there's human trafficking going on in their basement."
"You mean this article that says 'Human Trafficking At Goblin Bar, You Won't Believe What's Going On?'"
"Yeah that's the one,"
"Not that I want to encourage you, but you really shouldn't tell people what's allegedly happening in the first five words and then tag on that cliffhanger. You gave it away. At least make people click on it. You see now what people are doing is sharing this because of the headline instead of reading it and as a result you are probably going to get our favorite bar shut down or at least protested," Scarlet said. "At least if they clicked most people could go 'Oh this is bullshit written by an idiot.'"
"A rich idiot," Rufus corrected. "But now that you mention it maybe I have been going about this the wrong way."
"Oh god, what are you planning now?" Scarlet asked.
"Well people click and I get like 2 gil a click. So far I've only made around 1400 gil which isn't bad for a day's work but it won't really have any earth-shattering results."
"With you so far," Scarlet nodded.
"But if I can make damning headlines based around how I want people to feel and what I want them to do... then maybe I can wrest control back of the company from Reeve without having to lift a finger. You know apart from writing the articles," Rufus explained.
"So you're just cutting all the pretext and going to start making fake news?" Scarlet asked.
To Be Continued in... Shinra Inc. And Fake News