A few nights ago, I was up late working. As I wrapped up my evening, I went into my email to clear out the many notifications from social media that are delivered each day.
I usually click on a few, judge the topic quickly, make sure people are behaving and being respectful, and quickly move on - hitting the “sweep” button and removing them all at once.
On this specific night, I saw a couple comments asking if “the St. Paul Journal” actually reads the comments posted, which I thought was a funny coincidence as I scanned through. But the tone of the comments is what made me pause and wonder what reaction people truly expect on social media when commenting on things, such as news.
So, I came up with a few points I felt needed to be clarified. First, it isn't my job to argue or engage with random people about local, provincial, federal or international politics. Especially not on social media. If you’re looking for someone to troll or fight with over a screen, you will need to search elsewhere.
Second, while I did see this specific comment by chance, the answer is no… we do not read every single comment posted on all of our social media feeds. Nobody has time for that. Our news team is busy covering local topics and events, while other team members are busy doing their jobs. We do watch from a distance, so to speak. And we take action to remove inappropriate, vulgar, or irrelevant comments when needed.
Third, I get it - some people don’t want to read about stories that happen far away, written by journalists they don’t know. Some people also don’t want to flip through a local dance club’s concert photos… but some (many) do.
Variety in life is important. And variety in storytelling - which is what journalism is - is crucial.
Just because you walk into a store wanting to buy a black shirt doesn’t mean the next 10 people are also walking in to buy the same black shirt. Chances are someone wants a blue shirt, another wants a green shirt, and perhaps I’ll walk in wanting a pink dress.
With such an abundance of information at our fingertips, our worldviews seem to have become much more narrow and self centred at times.
So, lastly, while we all want the freedom to speak - and we have it in Canada - it doesn’t mean that someone is always going to be listening - and that’s OK.