Journalist dad discovers that social media isn’t all that bad

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. outgrow / ˌaʊtˈgroʊ / (v.) – to stop enjoying or doing something you used to enjoy or do as a child

    My daughter recently outgrew playing with dolls; now she prefers to play video games.

  2. take after (someone) / teɪk ˈæf tər / (phrasal v.) – to be similar to a parent or an older relative in appearance, behavior, personality, etc.

    Allan enjoys cooking. He takes after his father, who’s a chef.

  3. stack up / ˈstæk ˌʌp / (phrasal v.) – to increase in amount or number

    The newspapers have been stacking up in our living room for a while. We need to recycle them soon.

  4. morsel / ˈmɔr səl / (n.) – a tiny piece or a small amount of something

    The witness didn’t see much and was only able to give a morsel of information about the crime.

  5. generosity / ˌdʒɛn əˈrɒs ɪ ti / (n.) – the quality of being kind and willing to give help or support

    Thanks to my grandma’s generosity, I was able to graduate from college without any debt.


Read the text below.

These days it’s hard to feel optimistic about social media, especially if you’re working in the news industry. But journalist McKay Coppins discovered it’s not all that bad — in fact, it can be quite wonderful. In early June, Coppins went on Twitter to ask for “interesting facts” to tell his two oldest children (aged 6 and 8) before they go to bed. Apparently, his kids had outgrown bedtime stories and were now interested in real-life facts, which is the stuff of serious journalism. Clearly, they take after their father.

Coppins was skeptical about how much interest his tweet would spark, thinking that maybe he would get 10 or 20 responses. But within minutes the suggestions stacked up and by the next morning over 3,000 people had written in, each with their own unique morsel of knowledge. Asha Rangappa wrote: “Your foot is the exact length from the crook of your elbow to your wrist.” Anna wrote: “Humans can process three channels of color (red, green and blue), while mantis shrimps perceive the world through 12 channels of color and can detect UV (ultra violet) and polarized light.” Philip Gourevitch simply told Coppins: “Bananas are berries.” Gasp!

Coppins, a formidable political journalist and staff writer for The Atlantic, was surprised and delighted at the sheer generosity of his Twitter community. “Twitter — sometimes it’s not that bad!” he tweeted out. He even replied to some of his fact-finders. After Sam tweeted a photograph of a coconut covered in stamps and said “You can mail a coconut,” Coppins replied to him: “Used this one tonight!”

Some facts were more popular than others. Michael Gallagher’s “Cleopatra lived closer to the creation of the iPhone than she did to the building of the Great Pyramid” for example, got over 2,000 likes. Did you know that? (The Japan Times)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Which of the facts mentioned in the article did you find the most interesting? What other fascinating facts do you know? Discuss.
  • Do you think that Coppins should fact-check the responses before he shares them with his children? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Coppins said that his children outgrew bedtime stories. What’s something that you outgrew when you were a child? Would you like to go back to it as an adult? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Coppins was surprised and delighted at the sheer generosity of his Twitter community. Aside from sharing trivia, what are other ways people can help others via social media? Have you ever helped someone on social media? Discuss.