Reading beyond the headline

A picture of a cute fawn has nothing to do with this column. (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

I was going to make the headline for this column something utterly unrelated like “A Golden Globe nominee neighbor” or “When Your Child Steals Your Car,” but then I came to my senses. I don’t need to conduct social experiences to know that people should read beyond the headline to understand the news. I get enough pushback from the blurb-only readers as it is. I don’t need to fuel the fire. Or do I?

I recently found myself part of an online debate. Please don’t get the wrong idea. There wasn’t any drama. A person had written an opinion, and I asked for clarification. I wasn’t clear how his statement pertained to the article. We had a few back and forth texts with other people chiming in occasionally.

To summarize, the gentleman felt a group of people should read more books. As an avid reader, I also want to encourage people to read. The conflict began because I think we can all do more than just one thing.

I started to realize that the gentleman’s questions didn’t pertain to the article at all. He gleaned information from the headline and attached blurb. The commenter couldn’t have clicked on the link and read the news piece. Otherwise, he would have realized the article answered his questions. I began responding with direct information from the report. After a few more typed exchanges, we respectfully parted ways. Yes, I saw the irony of a discussion supporting reading with a person who perhaps didn’t read the essay.

We all know newspaper headlines aren’t the story. The headline grabs our attention, so we explore further. It’s the original clickbait. It’s also easy to fall into the trap of commenting without getting the necessary information. I enjoyed the exchange of ideas because we were polite to each other. Of course, it also gave me the chance to remind my family to always read beyond the headline, especially if they decide to share information publicly or they may have their mother commenting on their posts. No one wants that to happen.


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