Pet Peeve #65: “On This Date…”

A few days ago, I was scrolling down ESPN.com when I saw this:

Woah! I got really excited. I couldn’t believe that I missed Gretzky coming out of retirement, and it was amazing to hear that even in his old age, he broken the record.

Of course, this was my millisecond-level reaction–if I had even read the caption a little bit, I would have known that it was an “on this date” entry. The header made it even clearer:

This is what gets me about these types of posts on ESPN and Facebook. My brain zeroes in on the image, and because the image is in the timeline, I compute that the event happened today. Why wouldn’t it? So I get all excited for nothing.

Here’s my recommendation to fix this issue: Display all “on this date” images in black and white. Then I’ll have a visual cue that it’s something from the past, not the present.

Have you ever experienced this confusion?


6 Responses to “Pet Peeve #65: “On This Date…””

  1. Katy says:

    That example is definitely more than a little misleading about the events, and I can see how it could cause someone to get excited and then a little confused by the date being listed after the headline/picture, especially since the picture is the first thing that catches your attention.

    I tend to like the Facebook flashbacks sometimes, and a great example of why I like them happened earlier this week: There was a picture I took (and shared) of Jasper playing in the snow from 4 years ago that popped up in my “On this day” notifications. Seeing that picture made me happy, because Jasper is even cuter when in a snow drift, and it was also a good reminder that while we’ve had a lot of dreary, rainy days lately, that it could be worse and have super cold weather and snow added to the mix.

    I guess the real difference between the sports memory on ESPN vs personal Facebook memories is that when things show up on the “on this day” thing in Facebook, it’s usually something that I (or a friend) had posted and something I actually experienced, whereas the sports memories were a big deal, but unless you were actually there, it might not be as meaningful of an experience to just hear about it years later.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Katy: I do like when Facebook reminds me of past posts I’ve made–I can see how a Jasper post would make you smile. 🙂

  2. Jeffrey Spenner says:

    This happens ALL THE TIME in the music world, especially with news of deaths. We seem obsessed with commemorating and remembering and honoring to the point where several times a year I see someone posting about some great musician we lost…several years ago…thinking it was recent.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Jeff: That’s really interesting! I hadn’t thought about how commemorating deaths could easily be confused with recent death announcements, but I can definitely understand how that could happen.

  3. Paul Howard says:

    The BBC news website used to have this problem a lot with their “top 10 most read stories” when people linked old news. This is only a list of “headlines” without pictures so that aspect of confusion has gone, but they now also insert the “first published” date in slightly smaller text beneath if the story is historic rather than recent.

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