These days AOL seems to specialize in headlines which demand you click on them to find out the answer to a teaser. (Somebody is getting paid by the number of clicks.)
It reminds me of Cosmopolitan Magazine from thirty years ago. They specialized in headlines which promised you the secrets of the universe, but then, when you'd take a look at the articles themselves, they were invariably disappointing.
Today's AOL headlines were typical:
"WOMAN ACCIDENTALLY FILMS WILD THING. She was just taking video of the water outside her window as she rode the ferry -- but what she ended up..... Startling scene outside her window."
You're left wondering what wild thing she filmed. The Loch Ness monster? A great white shark? A grizzly bear on shore? A murder taking place on a nearby boat? When I clicked on the article, it turned out to only be a bolt of lightning. Of course, it wasn't a tame bolt, but a wild one. But it still made me think, I'll never click on another AOL headline again -- after all, lightning doesn't strike twice.
But then the next headline read, "THIS IS THE WORST CAR DEAL OUT THERE. We've done the hard work for you already. So if you're looking for a good price on a car.....You're not going to save on this right now."
And I simply had to know: what would the absolute worst car deal be? What unscrupulous car dealer are they going to expose? Which car is the biggest ripoff? But when I clicked on the headline, it turned out to be a list of ten cars, all described in glowing terms, ranked in order of the current discount one could expect to get off the MSRP. Well, there's a reason I never go to auto websites on my own.
The next headline: "PATERNO FAMILY MAKES BIZARRE REQUEST. Newly released emails seem incriminating to the late coach -- but his family doesn't want....What they want investigators to do instead."
Oh my god! Was Old Joe a pederast himself? Does his family want this information squelched? But when I clicked on the headline, it turns out to be a link to a Sporting News article which merely said that since the recently released emails could be taken out of context, the family wants his emails released in their entirety instead. Please explain to me: what exactly is "bizarre" about that?
Next: "CHRISTIE OPENS UP IN CANDID INTERVIEW. The New Jersey governor, known for his tough guy image, revealed a more personal and.....'Really difficult thing' he's struggling with."
Given that Chris Christie seems to be on Romney's short list of VP picks, I figured I'd better find out exactly what this deep, dark secret is. After all, the word "revealed" implies a revelation. But when I clicked on the headline, it turned out that he says his weight is a problem for him, but that he intends to work on it. That's a revelation? Maybe some people have never seen a photo of him.
Calling AOL the new Cosmopolitan is probably an insult to Helen Gurley Brown. Maybe AOL is in fact the new Weekly World News.
But now I'm thinking, maybe I can get people to read my blog by using similar tactics.
Maybe I could run an all-caps headline screaming, "BARACK OBAMA'S SECRET PERVERSION!" Then I could talk about how the President likes to watch ESPN.
Or I could post, "ROMNEY LIKED HAVING SEX WITH LITTLE BOYS....." And just leave out the last word, "nearby." Then, in the copy, I could explain how early on in his marriage Romney had sex with his wife while his two oldest sons, still infants at the time, slept in nearby bedrooms.
Or maybe I could even go further: "I WAS RAPED BY A GIANT BIGFOOT!" Then, in the copy, I could explain how I had seen a misleading article which implied that a large sasquatch had been spotted, but the entire incident turned out to be a hoax, and how I felt violated by this betrayal of trust.
Hey, I gotta do something to liven this blog up.
(My son has suggested I put in pictures of naked women; I'm not quite there yet.)