I’m a fan of facts. I like to read short facts – you know, the “did you know” type. I enjoy browsing through them and pondering over their accuracy, how surprising they are and what kind of audience would appreciate them. I think it came from my early newsroom days.
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Anyone who has worked in the editorial department of a magazine, newspaper or website (heck even radio and TV, I presume) will tell you that it is someone’s job to browse through databases of “quotable quotes” or “fun facts” and select them for page or airtime fillers.
In those early days, I discovered a website, www.uselessfacts.com. I remembered it recently and tried to access it only to discover that the URL was up for sale (probably for a good sum of money). Replacements had morphed in its place. Every website of facts now wants to be associated with the original “Useless Facts” so you will find “Completely Useless Facts”, “Totally Useless Facts” and even “50 Amazing But Useless Facts” as titles of websites.
Now if this is even a little bit attractive to you (attractive enough for you to stop reading this editorial and go to Google), then I must warn you of something. You just might like reading through those useless facts. In fact, you might like it a lot – to the point of being addicted. And now, with this age when people want to share everything, believe me, you will want to share those useless facts.
True, you might try and be less annoying in your sharing. Perhaps you’ll try to weave it into a little anecdote or embed the words in an awe-inspiring or thought-provoking picture. You know, one of those with peaceful-looking rivers or odd-coloured mountains. Your friends will marvel at how clever your facts are and they will want to share them. Voila...you will have started a cycle.
Actually, there’s completely nothing wrong with that. The only problem is, the facts are, well, useless. I will leave you with two of them just to prove the point. If, by the end of this weekend you find that these facts are in fact useful (or incorrect), please drop me an e-mail on [email protected]
Fact: If you keep a Goldfish in a dark room, it will eventually turn white.
Fact: In England, the Speaker of the House is not allowed to speak.
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