It’s news to me

What colour did you think the dress was?

Last week a young woman living in Scotland posted a picture online of a two-tone dress the mother of her engaged friend was planning to wear to the wedding. Under the close-up photo, her caption read: “guys please help me – is this dress white and gold, or blue and black? Me and my friends can’t agree and we are freaking the (bleep) out.”

I’m sure most of you know what happened next. The picture and question went viral to such an extent that millions of people, including celebrities, were responding on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites like Tumblr, where it was originally posted.

It was also all over the news with many media outlets offering a polling system to tally how many people viewed the dress as white and gold, like my husband and I did, or blue and black, like our children did.

The results seemed evenly split for the most part, and that’s what I noticed when I posted the picture and question on my own Facebook page.

While most people seemed to be having a jolly good time weighing in with what they saw, baffled as to why we weren’t all seeing the identical colours, others were completely irritated.

“Nobody cares,” “It’s ugly,” “This isn’t news,” “This is stupid,” and “Enough already” were just some of the sentiments I read repeatedly.

Obviously the colour of the dress wasn’t the only thing people were completely divided on.

The reaction to this story becoming an internet sensation was clearly mixed. From my perspective, I saw it as an entertaining distraction from the horrifying murder and mayhem that typically dominates the news.

I found it engaging because so many of us were asking the same questions. Why aren’t we all seeing the same thing? Who posted the original picture? How did it go viral so fast? Why had this type of story not exploded in the news before? What was the actual colour of it in real life?

Those answers and more can easily be found online, but in case you don’t already know, the lowdown on the latter is that the dress is blue and black. Interesting. So what else have I perceived so incorrectly?

No, this was not hard hitting news. But, like most people, I welcome some enjoyment in my day and this fit in nicely. It also taught me some things I didn’t know.

I was intrigued to hear what my friend Susan thought, since she’s often complained about the negativity of traditional media.

“If it bleeds it leads,” she’s groaned. “It’s so depressing.”

I thought she’d love the lighthearted dress debate. I was wrong—she was not impressed. She also disliked the extensive coverage a couple of escaped llamas in Arizona were getting at the same time.

“Don’t you find them interesting or amusing?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “But even if I did, llamas on the loose and hideous dresses don’t belong on the news.”

I had to disagree. The public displayed tremendous interest in both of these stories. They’re a good example of how people want the serious journalism that might leave them feeling sad or angry, but they’re more likely to pass along the happy stuff.

An analysis of the social share counts of over 100 million articles by Buzzsumo confirms this. The content discovery company presented the four most popular emotions invoked in viral stories as awe, laughter, amusement and joy, whereas sadness and anger were among the least popular emotions, adding up to only seven per cent.

I can’t say I’m entirely okay with these statistics. Sharing information about crucial issues that require our help need to be circulated as well. Yet when we consider that the most read articles aren’t necessarily the most shared, and that we’re thoroughly inundated with tragic stories from all over the world, it’s easy to see why we’d be attracted to something positive.

There needs to be a healthy balance between all types of reports, both good and bad. But much like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, news is in the mind of the observer.

 

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be found at LoriWelbourne.com.

Just Posted

Norwegian ship draws interest on Port Alberni’s waterfront

A ship from Norway has been gaining a lot of attention in… Continue reading

BIZ BEAT: Port Alberni’s first Indigenous-themed guest house opens

New beginnings and endings for businesspeople in Port Alberni

Dennis Olsen will rock Teas on the Terrace in Port Alberni

Spend an afternoon under a canopy of trees at Rollin Art Centre

Alberni Valley Blazers win double gold in girls’ softball

U16 and U14 girls win their respective provincial championships

Ottawa singer songwriter Victor Nesrallah plays Char’s Landing July 22

VIA Rail’s latest ‘artist on board’ takes first Vancouver Island tour

VIDEO: Sproat Lake hosts annual regatta

2018 Alberni Valley event featured two days of boat racing action

Kitten OK after being rescued from underground pipe in B.C.

An adventurous feline has been rescued after getting trapped in an underground pipe in Kamloops, B.C.

A day after back-tracking, Trump defends summit performance

Amid bipartisan condemnation of his embrace of a longtime U.S. enemy, Trump at first sought to end 27 hours of recrimination by delivering a rare admission of error Tuesday.

Thai soccer players rescued from cave meet the media

Members of the Thai youth soccer team who were trapped in a cave have left the hospital where they have been treated since their rescue.

Elon Musk apologizes for calling cave rescue diver a ‘pedo’

Musk called a British diver involved in the Thailand cave rescue a pedophile to his 22.3 million Twitter followers on July 15.

Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

Special forces unit to monitor Hells Angels ride on Vancouver Island

Enforcement unit says motorcycle club to hold 35th anniversary ride in Nanaimo

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Most Read