Monday, June 21, 2010

The Problem with Headlines

The advent of the Internet has brought with it a significant hunger for news. There are millions of people on the world wide web at any given moment and many of them are surfing for something that catches their eye. Sometimes, the speed of surfing stops people from reading full articles and blogs and, instead, they only take with them the headlines. This is a problem.

A headline today read "Too much exercise can cause problems for some women." When you take the time to read the article, only 3 paragraphs long, it goes on to say "inexperienced female endurance athletes can damage their health." I would contend this statement applies to men as well. I'd further contend that doing near anything without experience, or doing so blindly without some training or education, could result in damage to one's health.

The near insatiable need for content to satisfy the thirst for "something new on the web" has resulted in an environment where nearly everything is news. Worse yet, in the absence of actual news we just make things up. This blog is a great example. I sit here and make things up all for the sake of brand recognition. Each writer thinks, of course, their voice and their writing is meaningful. The web gives all writers a platform for sharing their words, good or bad. Some percentage of what is put on the web probably it is helpful. My question is what responsibility does each of us have to be cautious with the snippets we put out there? The headline reading too much exercise can cause problems for women only applies to a minuscule number of women out there exercising. We know most people don't exercise so why would this headline appear at all. More accurately written as, "Are you a new endurance athlete? Read this.

The other women that read it? Perhaps they will skip their workout this afternoon. Perhaps they feel justified in continuing to avoid exercise. Perhaps they'll share the headline with their friends and perpetuate the myth that exercise can be harmful.

I think we need a glut of positive reinforcement out here. After all, some daily exercise is only good for everything in your life.

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