The Shocking Truth About Hyperbole


So a headline is there to grab the reader by the earlobes and leave him no choice but to read the sub-headline, which is there to grab him by the eyelids and leave him no choice but to read the first sentence, and so forth.

The AdWords revenue just gushes forth from there, right?

Even if no one literally says that’s how it works, there is no shortage of do-or-die advice about the need to grab attention right away in a blog post or any other type of article.

And it’s all correct–attention spans are growing scarcer than fossil fuels as the internet continues to have its way with our brains, and the headline is the shiny, spinning lure that is the writer’s only chance of getting fish to bite.

But I have some reservations about how this wisdom is applied. At what point does being provocative and attention-getting cross the line into poor taste or even dishonesty? OMG Cat isn’t so cute after all? Pringles cause cancer? Defibrillators might not work? 

Maybe a line can be drawn by saying you have to be able to back up your shocking truth, but nowadays you can back up any claim and find (or become) an expert in no time. In the context of a blog post, what are the odds you’re really going to be fact-checked?

Hyperbole is OK, but integrity is really cool.

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