Saturday, August 5, 2017

Ignorance ≠ Bliss: Why You Should Read the News

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By: Emery R.



            Saying that the news these days isn’t happy is an understatement; it’s downright depressing. At times, the headlines blaring at us from the tops of newspapers, scrolling from right to left at the bottoms of television screens, and popping up as notifications on phones feel like tragedy-steeped white noise; a saddening soundtrack to our daily lives. As a result of the steady deluge of disheartening events, many people have opted to turn off the news alerts on their phones, to avoid the alphabet soup of news channels, to simply block out the news altogether. While I understand the feelings and the reasoning behind this, I truly believe that it is not the right course of action to take. Whatever else you choose to do, you should continue to read, watch, hear, or otherwise consume the news.

            First and foremost, you should pay attention to the news because it is important to know what is going on–in both the United States and the rest of the world. Although what happens is oftentimes outrageous and heartbreaking, refusing to acknowledge the existence and occurrence of such events is about as damaging to those affected as the original devastation. Having a general public that is aware of what is going on encourages positive change. Refusing to become a witness to wrongdoing of any kind is selfish and does nothing to hold those responsible accountable. In fact, it does the exact opposite. Remember, whatever pain that you or I feel reading, watching, or hearing about something is nowhere near as great as the pain of someone who was directly impacted by that incident.
            The next prominent reason why you should keep an eye on the news is that is invaluable to learn how to recognize things such as media bias. The selection of the stories that are communicated to the masses and how those stories are covered provide the most honest reflections of American society in existence. It is absolutely necessary, for example, to be able to discern how people are presented in the media based on qualities such as skin color (front and center), but also gender, age, capability, etc., and how the media presentation of these people impacts our perception of them in day to day life. We must always be aware of how much power the media has in influencing our perspectives, and we should evaluate those perspectives accordingly, knowing of the presence of bias.
            The third and final reason why you should read the news is that being cognizant of what is happening in our country, and being cognizant of what is happening in other parts of the world gives you insight into the behavior of the people around you. You might better understand why they feel upset, why they are outraged, why they say certain things, where their opinions are coming from. This leads to more complex conversations being had, more perspectives explored, and ultimately, having those complex conversations and exploring those perspectives are what will make you a more dynamic and a more conscientious person.
            In conclusion, you should always make sure to pay attention to the news. Purging the news from your life does not improve anything in the long term. It only creates a temporary bubble that is sure to be popped when someone says, in an amazed, yet horrified tone,
            “Wait, you don’t know what happened yesterday?”
            It is our duty, as citizens of the United States and the planet Earth, to be aware of what is going on, so that we can form deeper perspectives, so that we can hold people accountable, and so that we can demand change when it is needed. Ignorance, especially willful ignorance is unacceptable. It is only through awareness that we can build a better world, for ourselves, and for those who come after us. 

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