Google Buzz came to my Gmail inbox yesterday and boy, am I giddy.
I love sharing articles, pictures, videos, etc. through Facebook, Twitter, and Google reader, so maybe this will streamline things a little bit better. Maybe not, who knows? I, too, have privacy concerns and a little voice in my head tells me to be a bit more skeptical of Google. All I know is that I love to share things, other people love to share things, and nobody wants to miss out on the latest viral video (cue the Muppets video to the right).
But how often do we consider what we share and why we share it? Some of us just want to offer helpful tips, spread viral videos, link to something funny, or make people think we're the first to know everything. Then there's the occasional awe-inducing item.
If you're one of those people who shares the awesome stories, you're not alone. The New York Times's John Tierney reports on a study that examined his newspaper's most-emailed topics. Researchers found that people prefer e-mailing long articles with positive themes. "Perhaps most of all, readers wanted to share articles that inspired awe, an emotion that the researchers investigated after noticing how many science articles made the list," he writes.
Before we talk more about the findings, I should say that I'm a little bit skeptical of the study because I am not convinced email is the way people share information. For instance, the people who e-mail Times articles are a different demographic from the people who use Twitter. Some of Wednesday's trending topics were #shooturself, John Mayer, Ihatequotes. They didn't exactly strike me as awe-inspiring topics. Who e-mails articles for fun anymore? (Ahem, older, probably more educated people) So the study is interesting but probably not representative of what the general population wants to read.
Also, just because you didn't share an article with someone, it doesn't mean you're not reading it. I don't remember sharing stories on Haiti, but I've read my fair share of them.
Still, it's worth considering the idea that readers want to be awe-inspired and they want inspire awe among their friends. I used to subscribe to the Times's most-emailed RSS feed because I thought I would be sure to find the most interesting articles. Instead, I felt like it was feeding mostly op-eds (read: little reporting) and news of the weird, so I unsubscribed. Apparently, I've been missing out on the awe-striking stories.
Nowhere in the story, though, does it mention whether religion stories were among the trending items to e-mail. Here's Diane Winston's take at the University of Southern California:
Secular elites, as many Times readers are, don't look to God or the Bible for answers about the history of the universe, human evolution or the nature of good and evil. They turn to cosmology, paleontology and social psychology for illumination. When they look to religion, they want color, conflict, scandal and sensationalism. (Or so goes conventional journalistic wisdom.)
But conventional wisdom is not always wise or widely accepted beyond those who hold it. Yes, the public needs to know about priestly pedophilia and politically over-reaching pastors. We need stories on the rise of religiously inspired terrorism and the debates over ordaining gays and lesbians. But there's much more to religion than a laundry list of the good, the bad and the ugly. Art, nature, mystery and (super)naturalism shouldn't all be ceded to science.
Bob Whittaker believes everything in life happens for a reason, even being kidnapped and shot.
Last summer, the missionary doctor survived an attack in Nigeria, where he has spent the last 25 years helping the people of Africa. He was kidnapped, shot in the left arm and eventually released after his co-workers at a hospital in Nigeria paid the ransom.
Thanks to doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the nerve damage in his arm has healed enough for him to go back to work. Whittaker, a surgeon and obstetrician-gynecologist, thought he'd be returning to Nigeria to join his wife and son. But instead, he's in Haiti, working with other Nashville doctors to treat victims of the earthquake.
I don't know about you, but I'm pretty awe-struck.
My apologies for the YouTube choice. I simply enjoyed the "Beakers Ballad," and thought you might, too.