We’re all used to attention-grabbing headlines, especially when it comes to the news (even from our most trusted of sources.) Naturally, the headline piques your interest, it’s scandalous, controversial, and informative after all. So what do you do? You forward the link to your friend – without actually reading the article itself. And so the chain begins.
You’ve just made the most common mistake of our era. It’s called “headlining” and we’re all guilty of it. We’re all familiar by now with the fake news phenomenon, but this is different. The reporting is accurate, but seeing as you can’t fit the whole story into a headline, you’ll find that it only focuses on a specific part of a broader story, and so you find yourself taking in only that. This is not great. Reading the article will fill in the holes and give you context. You might end up getting a different perspective had you actually read the article. It is understandable that we may not always have the time to delve into the finer details and seeing as we are bombarded with an endless amount of content that comes from a 24-hour news cycle, the bigger picture is sometimes just enough for us.
With that said, consuming mostly headlines is not good for us. Our brains need time to absorb information, and that takes time. But it’s more than that. “Headlining” reflects a practice of not always taking the time to confront information in a deeper way and choosing to take things at face value. It trains our brains to reject additional information, the information that would likely educate us. Instead, we only deal with emotional stimulation and how something makes us feel instead of what it is in the first place. Can we stop this? Yes, Start by reading the article, at least one. If something truly grabs you, then make a concerted effort to read from start to finish. Once you’re done you might even feel accomplished!