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A jaw-dropping bombshell! This column will change everything!
Call me old-fashioned. I still get most of my email on AOL. I receive some of it via gmail, but I’ve kept the AOL account I opened during the Grover Cleveland administration.

I automatically sign out after checking my email, and, on AOL, this takes you to their home page, which, as I’ve mentioned previously, is an experience both amusing and annoying.

That’s because the AOL home page resembles a newspaper website home page. It is filled with headlines. Trouble is, AOL very often confuses trivia for news. They also tend to trivialize most of the real news that shows up on their website.

Partly this is because of the headlines. AOL headline writers overwork several inappropriate words and phrases. Topping the list: “bombshell.”

They use it to describe the darndest things.

One day this spring AOL announced: Marco Rubio Drops Last-Minute Political Bombshell.

Turns out that after discovering no one wanted him to run for President, the junior senator from Florida announced he is considering mounting a last-minute reelection campaign for his senate seat, despite previous statements that he would not run. Wow. A politician changes his mind. What a bombshell. It’s a good thing I was sitting down when I read it.

THAT'S ALMOST as shocking as learning that a drug-addicted entertainer or athlete has died from an overdose. Reading something like that is always an illusion-shattering experience.

The word also is used when a female celebrity becomes pregnant. Sorry, but “bombshell” only applies when a celebrity announces that he is going to give birth.

AOL also is big on the word “dishes,” as in “dishes the dirt.”

I’ve always connected the word with gossip, but AOL uses it for propaganda pieces, such as an actor promoting his latest film, which invariably is a remake of a remake of a film based on a comic book, or a comedy based on George Carlin’s seven words you can’t say on TV. ("Trust me, this film takes entertainment to a whole, new level.")

WHICH REMINDS ME ... every “news” website still says “f-bomb,” while movies and cable TV series just come out and say “fuck” — over and over and over. Even when the films or series are set in Biblical times.

It didn’t take long for websites to render certain words and phrases meaningless, at least in the context of a headline.

I mean, is anyone sucked into a story that promises something “jaw-dropping”? Or “gut-wrenching”?

WHAT DOES it take for something on You Tube (or whatever) to "go viral"? I recently saw a headline about a video going viral, when, in truth, it had fewer than 100 hits.

“Going viral” also is big on television crime shows. Some mad-genius villain plants a camera in the Chunnel’s emergency access road, records police discovering parts of two bodies straddling the border between England and France, and within seconds this video has gone you-know-what. Please. Give it at least a few hours.

Of course, something like that is sure to “spark controversy,” another favorite phrase for all disseminators of news via the Internet. One critic protests one scene in a film, and suddenly it’s a movie that “sparks controversy.”

This device is often used to hype reality television shows that no one watches. Every day there are stories planted online in hopes of arousing interest in the idiotic. (“Episode of ‘Yukon Men’ has people talking!”)

Also popular, but meaningless are such headline phrases as “changed everything,” “big surprise,” and “you won’t believe.”

PEOPLE WHO ARE old enough to collect Social Security are supposed to be hopelessly out of touch, but we're light years ahead of the adolescents who provide "news" online. What else can you say about those who continue to consider it newsworthy when an actress poses nude for a magazine, or attends an awards show wearing a dress that “bares her backside”? Weren’t we over that by the ‘70s?

Well, I guess when you're a 12-year-old, or think like one, you are still excited by childish things.

 

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