As people, we are obsessed with being involved. We love commitments. We like others to know that we care about things; that we’re down for the cause. We cover our car in bumper stickers, our rooms in posters, and our Facebooks in things like Kony 2012 videos all to prove that we care about worldly injustices and local happenings just as much as the next person.
But, simultaneously, I have frequently been told by friends and community members that they never read the news. Generally, this happens because they find it too depressing, or just not worth their time.
Well, that’s confusing.
If we’re talking about being socially conscious, culturally sensitive, people-oriented individuals, then our local and national news should be the most important part of our day, next to breakfast. In fact, cereal and newspapers go perfectly together just for this purpose.
Trying to be involved in communities we don’t want to read or learn anything about is like trying to paint a perfect replica of Picasso’s “Guernica” with your eyes closed. When you’re done you might feel like you’ve done a great job, but all you’ve really done is gone through a whole lot of paint and smeared messy streaks across a perfectly good canvas.
You should care about reading the news so that you can keep your eyes open and really watch what is happening around you.
I understand how difficult that is. When our eyes are open, we feel more responsible for the things that we see.
To those of you who don’t want to read the news because it’s too depressing, I want to tell you that you are right. The news does cover a lot of tragedy, and I agree that organizations could cover happier stories. We focus a lot on the hurt within the world.
But I believe that over time, tragedy has become an integral part of our societies, and I believe you are wrong to ignore that. I worry that if we don’t want to read about injustice, then we don’t want to solve it either.
If people didn’t want to be exposed to violence then we should stop watching Game of Thrones and playing World of Warcraft.
And maybe spend a little more time reading a fabulous local news blog.
I know that it can be more complicated than that for some. There are a lot of people who have told me that reading the news isn’t worth their time, or that they don’t trust what they read. Having trained and worked within the industry, even just in my short time, I have felt and seen the lack of trust that the public has in media. But I think that just means that you should be reading and watching even more.
Don’t believe everything you read. But do read everything.
Knowledge is powerful and knowledge is also one of the largest components of social change. So, yes, this is a column trying to convince you to be a better member of your community. I’m another person telling you that paying attention to things happening locally and globally is essential. With my column, I hope to have “specs” throughout the city, adding to the conversation on local happenings and news. Meanwhile, I implore you to read blogs, read The Spectator and the Seattle Times; read everything you can get your hands on. If you don’t agree with me just yet, that’s fine.
At least I got you to read my column.