“Batman Researcher?” Are Nonsensical Headlines Editors’ Resistance Strategies?

man wearing black and white stripe shirt looking at white printer papers on the wall

Nonsensical headlines stop me in my tracks. I think, “I don’t understand how those words belong together.” I immediately want to ask someone what it means or if I’ve finally gone insane, but then I’m like, “Do I want to know the answer to either question?”

It’s like Lewis Black’s famous line, “If it weren’t for my horse,” and like him, my brain goes, “LET’S FIGURE IT OUT!”

It’s not quite clickbait so much as WTFbait.

Oh my goodness. Look at how young he looks here. Mr. Black, we’re aging, and it sucks.

After that, the struggle is whether to click on the article, but most of the time, I don’t want that weirdness in my browser history. Can you imagine your family weeping over your grave, then asking, “Why was she reading about Batman researchers and AI’s breathing?! Was she planning world domination?”

(The answer is yes.)

Two examples of nonsensical headlines:

Nonsensical Headline Reads: "A Batman researcher said 'gay' in a school. When asked to censor himself, he quit" by Jeff Amy
It’s the words “Batman” and “researcher” that get me.
Nonsensical headline reads: "Telling AI model to 'take a deep breath' causes math scores to soar in study"
I turned into that robot after reading this.

Someone tell me it’s not just me. Please. I’m pretty damn good with words, usually, but these escape me. If you tell me to click on the articles, I direct you to my now-dead body and my confused, mourning family looking at my Chrome history, which is actually what killed me.

Editors: Why do you do this? Are you writing that up thinking, “This is gonna confuse everyone”? Or are you sick of your job and trying to see how bizarrely you can write headlines before you get fired?


The Educational Part

If you’re wondering about what a resistance strategy is, here’s your sociology lesson for the day.

This definition comes from Jill Stein and Kerry Ferris, the authors and editors of The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology:

Ways that workers express discontent with their jobs and try to reclaim control of the conditions of their labor

Ferris and Stein, The Real World, 8th ed.

‌All that talk about “quiet quitting” is an example of resistance strategies.

Interestingly, when I worked in health insurance, the company’s policies explicitly forbade employees from listening to spoken word and talk radio in the office. My resistance strategy? Listening to Lewis Black while I worked.

But that’s a post for another day.

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