This post won’t change your life even a bit

‘I've said “jiminy jillikers” so many times the words have lost all meaning!’
Milhouse Van Houten, The Simpsons


My wife and I were Googling potential honeymoon spots the other day when we came across this advertorial on Fodor’s site: 20 of the world’s best romantic hotels.

Regardless of the substance of the slideshow, and how romantic these hotels actually are, I like that title. A lot. Because it shows something that’s becoming increasingly rare in internet headlines: respect for the English language.

Think about it. Nine times out of ten these days, an article like that gets the title:

The 20 most romantic hotels on Earth

20 hotels that will redefine your perception of ‘romantic’

The 20 hotels you have to honeymoon in before you die

It’s obvious that the author, Megan Suckut, had to accommodate search engine optimization (SEO); hence the generic title and the counterintuitive choice of ‘best’ over ‘most’. But I appreciate her not using SEO as an excuse to go the superlatives-on-steroids route. Instead, she’s saying:

‘Here are 20 very romantic hotels. Are they the most romantic hotels on earth? Not necessarily. But they’re up there. So they’re probably worth checking out if you’re looking for a romantic place to stay.’

As a writer, it’s important to me that people use language as correctly and precisely as possible. It’s the most important tool of my trade, and when people misuse it for click bait-y titles, they’re blunting that instrument. Eventually we all lose. Even, if not especially, those same headline writers.

Because how many times can you write things like: The Hanukkah video you will not be able to stop watching before you reach boy-who-cried-wolf status?

That’s a real headline I saw on my Facebook feed today. Will I really not be able to stop watching this thing? It was originally posted on 22nd November. If the people who started viewing it then haven’t been able to turn away, they’re all either dead from starvation, or concerned family and friends have hooked them up to IVs while they sit half comatose, watching this four-and-a-half-minute video on an endless, Sisyphean loop.

Of course I know this hasn’t happened to anyone, but nevertheless, I can cross the website in question off my list of credible go-tos for amusement.

How about: A pretty cute Hanukkah video that’s bound to put a smile on your face?

That would stick out and get my attention.

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