Here are the things I did upon waking this morning:
- Went to the bathroom
- Fed the cats
- Made coffee
- Read an article about the discovery of what could be the Higgs boson particle.
Now, I don’t know anything about theoretical physics (other than it sounds made up) and I know very little about particle physics (other than it concerns particles), but I still read stuff like this because it’s interesting, and it’s important, and we’re one infinitesimal step closer to understanding how the universe came into being. I don’t understand all of the article but I understand enough, and when it comes to information like this, I think everyone should get credit for trying.
In addition to people who say “I’m not really a reader,” I’m really irritated by people who say “I don’t watch the news.” While some otherwise decent people* have said this to me lately and I’m not asking anyone to watch the local evening news (in St Louis it goes like this: murder, murder, double homicide, drugs, murder, church picnic!), admitting up front that you don’t watch the news or, let’s face it, follow any news source at all is unbelievable to me. I mean, I believe that some people actually don’t, but I can’t believe that it doesn’t impact their lives negatively in any way.
How do you not watch the news? How do you live your life every day without any real idea of what’s going on in the world, from events in your own city to your own country to global political and cultural events that could very well be shaping your existence because they matter? How do you possibly ignore all of the information that’s available to you every single day from a million different places? How is that okay with you? I’m tired of hearing that the news is “too depressing,” okay? Yeah, I know it can be depressing. But it’s also information about the world that you’re choosing to ignore because it’s inconvenient, because you’d rather spend hours on Pinterest and post that fucking Kony 2012 video again. I just don’t know how some people can make the choice to stay uninformed, I guess, because I don’t know what kind of non-information is floating around the brains, or how it satisfies them to think only of their immediate existence because clearly, there’s nothing else getting through.
It’s not even hard to watch the news. Get a CNN alert on your phone, scan the front page of the New York Times in the morning, or set up a Google alert for a few key terms that are broad enough to match the major news sources (BBC, Reuters, etc.) each day. You don’t need to be a scholar or believe everything you see in the exact way it’s presented to you, but at least you’ll know something about something for a change and possibly learn to draw your own educated conclusions.
New rule: if you don’t watch the news, you’re not allowed to think. You’re not allowed to vote. You’re not allowed to have an opinion about anything because you don’t know shit about it. If you opt out of information then you’re prohibited from contributing to any discussion of it. I might say a lot of things and have a lot of thoughts about, uhh, stuff, but I don’t talk shit. I know what’s coming out of my mouth. I bothered to learn it first. The least you can do is make some effort, too.
*If you’re reading this and think you might be one of those “otherwise decent people,” you probably are. I like you as people, but you have really got to start watching the news.
Information is endless. Endless in detail, scope, category, relevancy, grasp… even the things that are endless about it are endless. I think that its intelligent to understand that current events are only a portion of what is impacting people on this planet. I hope you might revoke your rule in light of this.
I agree that current events are a portion of what is impacting people on this planet, but opting out of the information for this reason — choosing to ignore it — is still, by definition, ignorant.
The idea is that some people might focus on other information, with just as much effort or more than someone watching the news, therefore making them much less ignorant that you suspect.
It’s hard for news junkies to understand, but not everybody wants to travel on the Information Superhighway. Many people who feel powerless to change things in their own lives can’t imagine having enough influence or personal steam to effect any kind of change in the lives of others. So they take the exit ramp, opt out, tune out, and drop out. They do things like go live in a trailer tucked away on some remote, mountain-top location in West Virginia.