I hate blogging! (On the power of titles)
Last Saturday evening I posted to Facebook a great Salon article by Anne Lamott titled Why I hate Mother’s Day.
I thought that the article was very well-done. It was empathic toward those of us who don’t have, don’t want, or can’t have children, but still participate in the parenting and nurturing of others. It was incisive in its criticism of the way that mothers are often blamed for society’s ills and then lauded on this one particular day a year, neither of which treat mothers like human beings. Overall, I thought it was a great article.
My Facebook friends did not. They were extremely critical, calling her “bitter” and the article “ridiculous.” But due to the fact that none of them were articulating specific things she said they didn’t like, and the things they were saying supposedly in argument sounded an awful lot to me like things that she actually said (meaning they were actually in agreement), I’m not sure they weren’t just having a reaction toward the sentiment conveyed by the title—“I hate Mothers Day.”
Honestly? My mom died 7 years ago and I’m not a big fan of Mother’s Day. So, I deleted that link because I couldn’t be bothered with those responses. I don’t normally behave that way, but I’ll admit it this once :)
Anyway, this got me thinking about the power of titles. I am still getting comments on a post I made about 9 months ago, which I titled Why Young Life is evil, as a shout out to the blog post that inspired it; WYLIE (Why Young Life is evil) by Fred Clark over at Slacktivist. His post was all about why he believed that Young Life is, in fact, evil. My post was about my personal experiences in high school with Young Life and other organizations in which I felt marginalized and invisible as a fat person. I attempted to offer hope, at the end of that entry, to those who might have experienced the same silencing by Christian groups, that the oppression we experience does not come from our God, who accepts us and cherishes us as we are.
Yet, as I said, I still keep getting comments (my most recent one yesterday) attempting to explain to me how I’m overreacting, tell me that I’m tearing down a wonderful organization, or even that what I am saying is laughable.
But authentic sharing and responsible criticism are not overreactions. There is nothing laughable about empathy. Debunking privilege is, I suppose, “tearing down” but not in a vindictive way—in a life-giving way. Because whenever privilege is abolished, and empathy takes over, life and love win. All of these are things that both Ms. Lamott and I were doing in the articles I discussed in this post.
Now I suppose the question is, would Anne and I have been smarter to use less incendiary titles? If we’d used something a little more, shall we say, diplomatic as the first impression of our articles, would our message have gotten through to more people? Seems to me the answer to that is: maybe, maybe not. Maybe people who are quick to react negatively would have read our articles with a more open mind, but then again, perhaps they wouldn’t have ever read our articles in the first place.
Anyway. What do you think?