Without fail, my grandparents watch the five o'clock news every single evening. They also like to browse the newspaper from time to time. Regardless of the platform, they keep up with the latest headlines. As a product of the internet/tech generation, I don't have to turn on the t.v. at five every day to get the scoop. No, I usually take to Twitter to scan my newsfeed for breaking stories. Either way, we can always count on each other to discuss the latest, biggest events of the week on my Friday afternoon visits.
Though it may seem like a nice way to bond with my grandparents, the topics of discussion aren't always that pleasant. In general, keeping up with the news doesn't often bring overwhelming feelings of warmth. There are the occasional "feel good" stories and positive outlooks on upcoming events, though. No matter what the mood of the reporting is, staying in tune with the world around us just seems necessary.
If you're not convinced, allow me to break down the pros and cons of staying aware of the world around you. Normally, I'd start by facing up to the negatives of the conversation, but I think those are more evident. I'd rather offer a potentially pleasant surprise for "staying woke."
I think it's important to acknowledge, first, that we can't hide from the world we live. Avoiding the news or the tough topics often reported doesn't make them go away. As such, keeping up to date does offer something beneficial in return for the dread.
Becoming, or staying, well-informed gives you more opportunities to engage with people you might not normally interact with. As I previously mentioned, I love to chat with my grandparents on Friday afternoons, and we often take to discussing the past week's broadcasts. Even if your grandparents aren't as readily available, people outside of your inner circle won't be as out of reach. Having some knowledge, even if it's limited, about things that are inevitably affecting everyone offer common talking points.
Continuing with the idea of connecting with people outside of your social circle, many news updates revolve around people who are in situations much unlike our own. I think it's far too easy for us to become immune to the world's problems when they don't directly apply to us. If we don't see them or hear about them, they essentially don't exist. Known or unknown, the problems affecting others can't be solved if everyone decides to follow this inattention and maintain an apathetic attitude. I'm not saying you should watch the news to become super(woman or man), but a heightened awareness is a good place to start. Becoming aware may, in turn, lead to your involvement in aiding or supporting a cause/need.
At the root of awareness is changing. The world is in a constant state of flux, and it can be advantageous to know about it. I think many people are resistant to change because of the unknown factors that may stem from it. Staying ahead of these changes, whether it's new laws and policies, shifts in markets, or altering world relations, will leave less likelihood for startling surprises later down the road. Besides, change can be good. Even then, what's good for one person may not be as good for the next, and vice versa. Regardless, we all operate within the confines of these changes.
Yes, there's an upside to being informed, but I won't ignore the glaring cons. I believe that, even with the cons, there's still a rational break down to dealing with the downside of staying up-to-date.
I think the most daunting aspect of following the news is the seemingly endless stream of negativity. A lot of reporting highlights the tragedies and conflict that plague our world, and it can honestly be a bummer. Tag lines of civil war, domestic terrorism, and corrupt politicians dominate most of the media's output. However, you don't have to catch every segment or read through every story.
Since I mainly get my updates through twitter, I can scroll as quickly or slowly through my feed as I want. Whereby, I can see glimpses of what the articles have to offer and go from there. I can easily bypass the mountains of negativity that sometimes form on my newsfeed. Instead, I can explore the "feel good" moments that make their way to the forefront every so often.
There can be an overwhelming amount of information to navigate through. Being selective is OK. Selectivity isn't ignoring difficult topics, it's being conscientious of our intake. Moreover, media consumption shouldn't go unfiltered. Yes, we need to engage with hard-to-swallow issues, but we can do so in small bits. With the number of problems circulating in the news, being in the loop can often lead to a feeling of helplessness. As one person facing a sea of issues, what can you possibly do? Again, you don't have to drop everything and become a superhero. Mindfulness of the struggles others face is a step in the right direction. It's the beginning of finding where or how you can help, and not just simply be an uninformed bystander.
At the end of the day, there'll always be another newscast, another headline, and another developing story. Navigating the highs and lows of current events can be insightful, but overwhelmingly so at times. In any case, we can't shut our eyes and hide behind our eyelids. Each of us exists as a small fraction of this giant place we call earth. To not be informed doesn't excuse you from not engaging with the world around you. At the same time, you don't have to be overly informed to make a difference. In all things, balance.