Just what appears in the news?

Or, this week, otherwise known as: “The big news on March 31 was that one of the presidential puppies took a poop inside.”

Seriously, if you took a look at what was trending online March 31, one of the big news stories of the day seemed to be that one of President Joe Biden’s dogs took a dump. In the hallway. Of the White House. Clearly, that should be what we all should be paying attention to, right?

Now that everyone’s had their laugh, know that I’m speaking in jest. Even if you looked at what was trending on Twitter March 31, the doggie doodoo wasn’t even in the top 10. Things that WERE trending, though:

• Godzilla vs. Kong

• Trans Day of Visibility

• George Lore

• Invest in You

• Skai

What wasn’t in that top five list at 2:45 p.m. on March 31:

• The Derek Chauvin trial

Now, I understand that Twitter “trending” isn’t exactly an accurate take on what is big news in the country. Twitter “trending” just shows us what is currently being most tweeted about, and to be fair, the dog poop didn’t make the top five either.

For that matter, I’ve been informed that neither did the fact that presidential pup Major apparently bit (nipped?) someone for the second time in three months. And, of course, each and every person’s Twitter feed varies depending on who they follow and their interests.

But let’s go back to trending on Twitter and the Derek Chauvin trial. The trial has been all over the Minnesota news. KARE 11 out of the Twin Cities has pre-empted its normal daytime schedule and has been showing the trial each and every day.

Less than a year ago, the wound of systemic racism in the United States was ripped wide open with the death of George Floyd. The trial is to determine the culpability of police officer Derek Chauvin in his death.

I’m offering no insight into the trial here, nor do I judge Chauvin’s actions. In the 11 months since Floyd’s death, so much has been said and done. There have been peaceful protests – and there have been riots. Wiser minds than mine will continue to tackle the issues of racism and police reform long after I put down my pen.

The concern here isn’t so much the trial as it is where social media seems focused this week. Like it or not, social media platforms play an important part in many people’s lives. The fact that a pile of dog poop trended and the trial did not does make me step back and take pause.

Where is our focus this week? Is that focus in the right place – or looking elsewhere? Does anyone have the right to say where an individual’s focus should be?

Over the last year, social media has been the focus of these very questions over so many topics – COVID-19, a contentious presidential race, Floyd’s death. As a country, we used social media to air our thoughts and see what others were thinking.

Whether this continues is up to individuals. And the importance of discussion cannot be understated.

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