Why Bad News Is Important News
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Politics and Activism

Why Bad News Is Important News

How the tragedy of 9/11 made me realize the different ways to consume bad news.

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Why Bad News Is Important News
Shannon Steffen

I did not know anyone in the planes, towers, or city streets that day. I was five-years-old, living in California with not a clue about the images I saw my parents watching on the news. I spent many anniversaries of this day knowing it had been a tragedy, that thousands of people had died, that it had been on purpose.

As I got older, I learned more about terrorists and the groups who had intentions to take down our strong country.

For most of my life, I didn’t understand terrorism. I didn’t understand the extent, the danger, the realness. It was a commonly used word that I never cared to learn more about. Partially, I blame this on my unwillingness to explore and listen to the news because so often I heard it referred to as "bad."

Up until college, I dreaded watching the news. When I was young, I was scared to watch the reports of major car crashes, people being killed and/or violence occurring around the nation. As I got into middle and high school, I would get frustrated with the “bad” news my parents let run on the TV at certain hours of the day. How could anyone ever want to watch this? I am always hearing people say, “can’t there be any good news?”

I used to feel this way, but then I realized that learning and knowing the bad news is something everyone should be doing. If I had listened to the bad news earlier, I wouldn’t have gone so many years not considering how lucky I am to live in such an amazing country. If I had watched news that was thought to be bad or sad or scary, I wouldn’t have gone most of my life not concerned about terrorism. If I had opened my eyes and ears to the bad news when I was younger, I wouldn't have been so shocked when I was older.

Knowing what I know now, I wish I had been older when those planes came down on our country. Not so I could have watched the tragedy, but rather because I wish I could’ve watched the news with my family and told them how much I love them in that moment. I wish I could have empathized for the families that lost their loved ones that morning. I wish I had understood how much that event would change the future of our country and our world. I was five-years-old and did not grasp an inkling of how real this was.

Now, I am 20-years-old and didn't let the anniversary of this day go by like I once did. I spent the day reaching out to loved ones and taking advantage of the informational and inspiring stories that are available to view on so many platforms.

This year on 9/11, I also watched History Channel's "102 Minutes That Changed America: 15th Anniversary Edition" with a group of about six friends. Sitting silently, watching the events take place in real time through this documentary of original video felt as close as I would ever get to watching it on the news that day 15 years ago. It might not have been my parents, my relatives, or my friends, but it was my country. It was all of our country. It was our America.

I no longer see it as bad news. It can make you feel. It can make you sad, devastated, heartbroken, scared, or disappointed. Now I see it as a chance to grab the phone and call your parents to tell them how much you love them. I see it as an opportunity to research something you don't understand and to act on something you believe. I see it as becoming an informed and passionate American. It's not a bad world, a bad country, or a bad life- it's not bad news.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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