Sunday, April 27, 2014

Stop It With the Bossy Headlines, Failed Media Fast, Collective Food Neurosis

Lately on my morning browse through my favorite news and opinion websites, I’ve noticed an alarming trend in headline writing. About every third article title is now “boldly” written to sound like your condescending and overly-opinionated neighbor spouting off after too many glasses of Chardonnay.

Headlines like “Sorry, It’s Not Okay to Buy Quinoa”, or “Stop Overindulging Your Pets: It’s Bad for Them”, or “No, Actually You Have It All Wrong about Religion”, have begun proliferating everywhere. I started noticing this a few weeks ago, and it has since spread like a virus to all of my regular sites. It’s either a desperate click-baiting technique, or some kind of “straight talk” backlash pendulum swing—but whatever the reason, it has irritated me to the point that I won’t click on those articles anymore. Just because you have a public forum in which to burble over at the mouth doesn’t mean that I have to subject myself to your temperamental “opinion piece”, especially when I’m being talked down to before the article even starts. Whatever happened to the spirit of open inquiry? Of exploration and mutual dialogue? Article headlines like “Sorry, Ladies: You’re All Wrong About Work-Life Balance” only add to the noisy anger in the world, and do nothing to make the internet a better place. I hope to God this eye-roll -inducing trend dies down soon. 

It shouldn’t be bothering me, though, because a few weeks ago, I decided to go on a media fast. I resolved to stop my regular diet of Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast and Alternet, and view only calming, uplifting, and non-newsy stuff on the web. I was getting far too anxious and overwhelmed by all of the things Going Horribly Wrong in the World. But that only lasted a few days before I found myself slowly creeping back to peek at a few headlines here, a column or two there. And before I knew it, I was back to my full-blown, anger-and-anxiety-producing surfing habits again. It’s a weird, addictive process. I’ll try quitting again….one of these days.

Speaking of neurosis, I spent some time at my friend’s house yesterday for some chattin’ and some eatin’. She made delicious nachos for an afternoon snack, followed by a scrumptious dinner of fresh vegetables, potatoes and grilled sirloin. A part of me felt guilty for eating cheese and carbs smack in the middle of the day; followed by a big meal, but a part of me also realized that was ridiculous.

I’m a big fan of the concept intuitive eating, but I don’t utilize it as often as I should.  My friend and I talked at length about how sad and neurotic we have collectively become about food. Over the years, with the explosion of information available about all of the ways in which food is killing us, eating is no longer considered something we do for pleasure and sustenance. Rather, it’s become a fear-driven battle fraught with guilt, anxious calculations about how we’re going to “burn it off” (before a morsel has even gone into our mouths), compulsive worry about whether it’s ethical, “clean” or organic, and how soon we should stop eating it once we start. We’ve become completely detached from our own instincts around food and our own inner knowing about what our bodies and need and how much.

That having been said, I enjoyed every minute of that butter and meat-laden dinner, and I even came home with a jar of homemade pickled cabbage. So my resolution for the next few weeks is to eat pickled cabbage with warm butter, and stop obsessing over things I can’t control. I think the pickled cabbage part is going to work out just fine. We’ll see about the rest.

--Kristen McHenry


Anonymous said...

If people only ate homemade foods, we wouldn't have to worry much about any of the rest of it. The scary thing is the "granola bar" that has more sodium than "salt crusted" steak.

John Socrates said...

Another very stimulating, entertaining and informative post. It's the sort of writing I'm used to seeing in a publication like Cosmopolitan, Woman's Day or Us Weekly. Just topnotch, my dear. But your posts are a lot more fun to read than a lot I see in these kinds of publications, actually. Such a writing job can be yours, I do believe, whenever you're interested. All you need to do is start submitting these posts to these mags, and whammo! it will happen. Of course, some of them require inclusion of snappy, annoying headlines in pieces!

Kristen McHenry said...

I agree, Michael. My friend has reverted an old-fashioned "farm" way of eating--a homemade meal with meat, several vegies from her garden,a basic starch, and usually something she canned, as she pointed out that vinegar used in pickling foods helps lower blood pressure and remove bad fats from the body.

Kristen McHenry said...

Thanks, John! :)