Nelson Clyde: Our information diet should include good and bad news

Published on Saturday, 18 March 2017 09:56 - Written by


A polite argument in our newsroom last week about whether cheesecake is cake or pie (or something else) spurred dialogue on other important elements of our world.

An observation my millennial friend Mike made over lunch about the notion people only portray their best self on social media was the next question.

This column has long been filled with my lamentations about how social media has sterilized our relationships but now this issue of many selves deserves some dialogue.

If you look at the pictures people post of themselves on social media they are usually only the flattering type. Or if they are my age, they may be photographs from their 40s. In fact, you have to wonder how many photos are photoshopped to enhance unreality ever further.

My oldest son was an excellent golfer. He was once discouraged by an advisor from paying too much attention to golf replays because, for the most part, the putts shown on replays only go in the hole. A standard of perfection(ism) is not only unattainable it is unhealthy.

Is it any wonder, with all these portrayals of only the best of ourselves on social media, the appetite people have for bad news is almost entirely diminished?

Unfortunately, bad news is just as vital a part of life as the good that comes along with it. If we restrict our diet of information to that which is only positive, have we created another self that cannot cope with real-world problems?

People used to tell my dad they just couldn’t read the paper because of all the bad news. He would respond by saying, “Wouldn’t you want to know if one of your neighbors was robbed or if a pattern of crime existed in your neighborhood or community?” What seems practical or pragmatic to one person may seem apocalyptical to another.

As we meandered our way around the newsroom on these topics, it made me realize my mug shot for this column is from my 40s. It is time for a new one. My old one is taken in a suit and tie, a way of dress, in my routine, which is now the exception rather than the rule. Perhaps something more authentic would be better. Maybe I won’t shave for a day or two for the next one.

I even asked in-house artist Kathy Garvin to paint a mug shot for me, as long as she could take about 10 pounds off in the process. The editor in her lodged an immediate protest. I’ll have to appeal again to the artist.

And, can anyone authoritatively answer the question whether cheesecake is cake or pie?