We Need to Talk About How Opening Your Headline With ‘We Need to Talk About’ Makes You Sound Like a Hugely Belittling Hack-Fraud Asshole
This is not a joke. The modern trend of using the dried out, cliche, hackneyed, lazy, thoughtless, worthless, irritating, belittling, bullshit headline ‘we need to talk about’ must come to an immediate and violent death—thrown into the dustbin of literature as soon as humanly possible (if you can call blogging literature.)
First of all, there is no talking taking place — it’s an article, not a dialog or debate. It’s often a one-sided speech on the internet from the author. That’s not really a talk in the way that ‘we need to talk about’ implies. Of course, regardless of what you write (or the headline for that matter) the comment section is just going to get filled with same kind of yammering swill that any other article gets anyway. So the hope of having any real ‘talk’ when your headline opens with ‘we need to talk about’ is—in the great words of Hank Hill—asinine.
‘We need to talk about’ has become so common amongst internet article writers, that we might as well all release a collective defeated sigh at the funeral of creativity and just start using wntta.
Furthermore, have you ever heard the opener ‘we need to talk about’ and looked forward to the rest of the sentence? Ever been in a family before and hear someone open with “we need to talk about…”? The hair on the back of your neck instinctively rises up. The next word could be anything—“candy” even—and you’d still animalisticly fall into fight or flight. This phrase is always horrifying. In fact, there was a horror film and book called We Need To Talk About Kevin. Why? Because that phrase is bloodcurdling.
Also, who’s this fucking ‘we’ that’s assumed when these headlines are written? Everyone? Humanity? All we? The royal we? I’m not your we. There’s no real we here. I don’t know you. Who are you? We who? Aren’t you just talking to yourself, writing it down, and hoping someone reads it?
Really this headline is just a veil for lazy writing, opinion, and clickbait—all not necessarily mutually exclusive. They can be presented incestuously as well.
The lazy writing angle is obvious. Say you had to write about elephants, and you couldn’t come up with a snappy headline. You just write We Need to Talk About Elephants. This article could be about fucking anything now. Elephant anatomy, their sex life, protecting elephants, how you can ride them, where to ride them, how they inspired the oliphaunt in Lord of the Rings, how smart they are, their diet, their crime rate, political leanings, their revolutionary plots, shoe size, dogma—anything.
Then there is just opinion. Wntta can often just translate to ‘look at my fuckin awesome opinion over here.’ And again, it usually doesn’t become a talk, discussion, or debate at all. Usually it seems to be a call to action or, a call to accept someone’s personal opinion. Which is fine, but again, opening with wntta—is misleading bullshit. Just write OpEd something and move on, like a real writer. Fuck you.
Finally, there is clickbait. Do we really need to discuss this? Someone could write the headline We Need to Talk About Race or, Gender. This is an immediate click for anyone with a race or gender. Who knows what could possibly be inside this potential time bomb? All I know is that I must see. It could be written by a racist, a sexist, a feminist, a professor of race and gender, an alien from another dimension, an incel, a communist, a fascist, an anarchist, one of those dinosaurs that changed sex in Jurassic Park—anyone. The headline tells me nothing—but I must see your opinion, man.
Look, wntta is belittling—even when it’s not trying to be. No one likes or looks forward to the phrase wnnta. No one wants to see it. No one wants to hear it. Everyone wants it to go away. It is talking down to the reader. No editor of any real talent would ask you to use that phrase in a headline. All English and Journalism professors everywhere should condemn it as lazy, non-writing.
Just start talking. Just start writing. Every article naturally suggests that there is something in it to think and discuss—and readers do (if you’re lucky.) Even some socialite’s shoes could indeed be something to discuss. But you do not, nor should you ever, open a piece with that obvious, frightening noise.
Become part of the evolution of language and abandon wntta.
We need to talk about is obvious.
It is lazy.
And if it were a living thing that could be killed—I’d do it right now for the betterment of us all.
Plus, I have the day off.