Being aware of our world

Tegan Johnson

We need to stay informed on current events


I feel bad about not reading the news.

My Google newsfeed is filled with stories of deaths in natural disasters, fires, shootings and other tragic events, peppered in with fluffy articles about the latest tech gadget I Googled last week. I know I need to be an informed citizen, knowledgeable about what’s going on in the world, but sometimes I don’t have the heart to read more than the headlines.

News can be depressing; I see more bad news than good news. I know I need to pay more attention to the world around me, but it can be difficult.

Great stories report on important events that impact millions of people, but I get too stuck on articles about upcoming Starbucks drinks.

The trivial and the upsetting are what catch my attention, and it overwhelms everything in the news.

The truth journalists uncover can sometimes be lighthearted or it can be heartbreaking. That doesn’t mean it’s all that there is — we choose the truth we want to see.

We all live in a news bubble. We choose the news sites to browse, we switch the channels on TV and we get our news feeds from algorithms based on our search history.  

You can easily live in a bubble as a college student. You could stay on campus and do your homework without ever reading or hearing about events going on miles away in downtown Seattle.

It’s painless to live in a world free from struggle and fear and death because of our privilege, but it’s not the way we should live.

This leads to the question: why should I care about what’s going on in the world if it doesn’t affect me? I can discover if others are experiencing hardships and see if I can help them. I want to know if, perhaps, I am experiencing injustice, and I can learn about how to fix my situation.

Being an informed citizen is crucial to the function of democracy. We need to know about local events, and world events, so that we can each vote in a manner that will best serve the country we want to live in.

We should learn about the lives of those who are different from ourselves because we could learn something from them. We can learn to appreciate what we have and to strive for better things.

Maybe you see an infographic about the homelessness rates in Seattle, so you start to value the fact you have a roof over your head every night. Perhaps you see an article listing the ways websites store their viewers’ privacy, so you consider whether your personal information is being stolen.

It is important that we widen our outlook of life so that we are able to have empathy for others. Everyone experiences life differently and seeing how others live should be interesting to us naturally curious beings.

For example, you may have never left the United States, and the farthest you’ve been from your hometown is a state away. You could learn about another culture by reading a profile on someone from another country or watching a video from a news station about a festival in another nation.

Staying up to date on the news also allows us to participate in more conversations. If you’ve only skimmed the headlines of last week’s newspaper, it’s hard to have an opinion on more recent events.

Above all, we should care about what’s going on in the news because we get the opportunity to learn. There are so many things we each don’t understand, and even more things we’ve never heard about, so reading the news and staying on top of current events allows us to become more knowledgeable citizens.

It would be easy to isolate ourselves and only see the things we want to see — but we wouldn’t have these opportunities to grow and become better citizens.

It may not be realistic to be on top of world events 100 percent of the time, but we should aim to be as aware as we can.

We have the freedom to find out hidden truths and discover other realities and they’re already all laid out for us, we just need to seek them out.