How to Stay Informed
By Nicolas Vargas
Social media’s transformation into the new mass media stifles the engagement of many young adults when it comes to political and social issues. Its quick turn-over time and expedited rate of decay has caused attention spans to shorten and interest to dissipate. Hearts have also been broken.
With the advent of social media, consumers have numerous sources for information and outlets to learn from. With all of the options, people can choose to favor the sources they believe are less biased. But as the number of “unbiased” news sources increases, so does the time and commitment one needs to spend researching so they can consider themselves “unbiased” consumers of information.
This task can be suffocating. “There is a positive to ignoring what’s happening around the world…it’s a form of self-care…I’ve become numb to most of it,” said BCC student Chris Lopez, in a recent interview. Lopez’s sentiment is no outlier. Multiple sources agreed that staying out of politics and social issues is due to the need to care for themselves emotionally.
So, my question for the students of BCC: is it more important to feel less stressed out about the world’s pain, or is it more important to seek it out and understand it?
Another student, 21-year-old Jordan Lloyd, shared his perspective. “It isn’t that I don’t want to be informed, it’s just that it all happens so fast that the more I seem to put my nose in it, the quicker it appears, the quicker it piles up.”
This intense feeling of apathy is not the fault of the average and sometimes overly causal observer. We tend to “become overly ungrateful and disrespectful towards our privilege to have this information,” student Ciara Delgado put it. I counter that this privilege is forgotten, mostly due to social media. We have access to so much that the meaning and impact is diluted by the vast amount of information out there.
Information can be a powerful tool used to fight against the oppression of ignorance. If you are ignorant to the happenings of your social, political and cultural environment, then you have no control over what happens outside of your self. You are given power, influence and agency (hopefully) in a democratic society. To fully take hold of that responsibility it is essential that you are informed. To engage in this responsibility, those with less accessibility to resources and lower media literacy, can use certain tools and resources to assist them in keeping up with the times.
One example of a helpful resource that can either connect or disconnect you from the internet is the public library. At its core, the library is a free and open space to digest information for those who don’t have the funds to subscribe to newspapers or order the newest academic publications. The library offers multiple options for obtaining information, one of which is checking out a litany of books on subjects such as economics, politics, social justice, education, and health justice. There are plenty of books that can give you good introductions to these topics through a variety of knowledgeable sources. My favorite is a series called “Introduction Books: Graphic Guides.” You may also use the library to read newspapers and magazines that are known for being credible sources. Plus, the library has computers to utilize if you don’t have one for web-based resources (or doing your homework!).
A resource I strongly recommend is a platform called News360. It’s a sophisticated application utilizing algorithms that understand which types of news and stories you favor. Then it collects, bundles, and delivers these stories to your app for easy access on or offline.
You can select different types of news stories and analyses you like; categories ranging from science, to art, to economics, to politics, to entertainment. With your newfound interest in news and current events, News360 will satisfy your need for knowledge by providing relevant and helpful information.
With this utility belt of social media resources, you can equip yourself with a manageable itinerary that will keep you informed and healthy.
When it comes to diving deep into the ocean of social and political issues, “accessibility,” “time,” and “priorities,” were the top three concerns of the students surveyed. To help ease these concerns, it’s important to have tools and systems to streamline awareness of the political climate and social issues.
As student Tatiana Lee put it, “Whenever something happens, I imagine how it would affect me if I was the center of the story, or how it would affect my family. So yes, I do care about social issues, because [they are] about me.”
Try News360 or a similar personalized news reader to help you cope with the stress and negativity that stems from sifting through the daily media onslaught in search of truth.