Edward Snowden? Syria? Government shutdown? Hopefully, all of these things ring a bell, because these are some of the biggest political and social topics that have swept the news platform this year. But you’d be surprised how few people are actually informed about these topics, and this lack of knowledge is especially prominent in the younger demographic, aka us high school students.
As young adults, it’s so important to be able to critically evaluate the world, because there is no way we can effectively take part in shaping it if we are not first engaged in it. This pervasive disinterest associated with the younger generation is rooted in the belief that these things happening halfway across the globe aren’t directly affecting us. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is influencing the world we live in, and what kind of place we will be living in the future.
So much of what the younger generation calls “current events” is filtered through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. There are a lot of uses for Twitter, such as bringing attention to important issues, but the accurate relaying of facts is not its forte. After all, just count the number of false alarms that spread through Twitter like wildfire in this past year. As much of a resource as these sites can be, they are not a viable replacement for the real deal. So it’s not enough just to be connected to current events, it’s even more important to do so through the right sources. Sites like gokicker.com, recommended by Editorial intern Jessica Zhou is geared towards high school students and is perfect for news items that are relevant and engaging, without being dumbed down.
The less exposed we are to the political, social, or economic landscape that we live in, the easier it is for our thoughts to be influenced easily by others. I remember my US Government teacher telling my class, “You can watch the Colbert Report or Fox News for entertainment, but if you use it as an actual news source, you’re an idiot.” The ability to judge what we take out of the media that inundates us with information is a part of media literacy, and it’s also crucial in forming educated opinions.
There’s a reason why the young adult voting bloc is always ignored by politicians. It’s because to them, it seems like we just don’t care. And as a teenager, I know that this is not the problem. When we are passionate about something, we invest 100% of ourselves into it. It’s necessary to channel this passion into articulating our voice and making an influence. And to do this, we must first know about the world we live in.
Having a certain level of awareness for global issues also helps tremendously in academics. What better way to corroborate an argument in your research paper than to support it with relevant and current knowledge? If nothing else, think about all of the great intellectual conversations you are missing out on. It’s an incredibly satisfying feeling to be able to engage in a conversation with someone else and feel in the loop. What kind of self-image would you like to project to others? One of a literate and knowledgeable student or of a disinterested and ignorant one? It’s infinitely more rewarding to be in-the-know than to be in-the-dark. Being savvy about the news makes for a more well-rounded student whose knowledge isn’t just limited to math equations and historical facts.
Today’s current events are a part of tomorrow’s history. And we all know how important the past is to shaping a better future. So pick up a copy of The New York Times or tune in to NPR. I dare you.