Last week, a ChicagoNow post from "The Queer Guy Tells It Straight" was making the rounds. The headline was genius: If you can be born stupid, then I can be born gay! Amen to that. The idea that a man can be born attracted to women but another man has somehow "chosen" to be attracted to men is ludicrous.
(There are, of course, people who then make the argument that you may be born with the attraction to the same gender, but it is your choice on whether or not to act on that attraction, and that by doing so you are harming society -- that is absurd and insulting, and totally unreasonable. Any "harm" done by two men having sex can't possibly be at the top of our "Societal Harms to Look Out For" list. Let's handle schools, wars, violence, crime, hunger, water, natural disaster preparation, consumerism, a disengaged populace, and a hierarchical power structure, and when all that is under control, then we'll take a look at those scheming gays and their selfish desire to have sex with people they find attractive...)
But we're getting off track! The reason I bring this up is not to debate the nature of sexuality and humanity, but rather the nature of blogging. Because what really jumped out at me about The Queer Guy's post was this: It was not much more than a headline. The story was secondary. Everything he expressed in the story could be assumed from the headline. The post was basically the world's best tweet with 250 words tacked on. The author does not provide any new information regarding this age-old debate. He gives us the outlines of his story -- he was beaten up in school, among other traumas I'm sure -- without really taking us inside his experience. Other than "to smell like that," his post isn't particularly funny or entertaining. If you read only the headline and skipped the story, you wouldn't miss any vital material.
The headline is the reason so many people clicked, why the post has 3000 Likes, why I saw the post pop up on so many people's pages. The comments section is where this post really builds its value; in fact, you could argue that The Queer Guy's "post" is simply the first comment following a fantastic tweet, that it was that comment that got the ball rolling on a lively, relatively civil debate.
Jimmy Greenfield, the head of ChicagoNow, recently reminded us bloggers about the value of headlines. He cited an insightful, engaging blog post that was hampered by a bland headline, and how he nearly skipped the post simply because the headline did not do justice to the content within. Here, The Queer Guy shows us the opposite, and reveals a valuable lesson about the world of online journalism -- when it comes to getting readers, a great headline is more than half the battle.