By Michael Reis
Where does a young person, whose brain is accustomed to being stimulated at every opportunity, go to find information relating to hot-button issues? I’m trying to stay informed—I think it’s the only way to really battle the ignorance which plagues our generation and gives all of us a bad name. But with the upcoming presidential elections, the headlines of terror attacks, and the social issues which have brought the United States to a more progressive mindset, it’s almost as tempting to read a six-word headline and feel informed as it is to break my diet for the one remaining slice of delicious pizza sitting useless in the box next to me.
Despite my best attempts and sincerest interests in political matters, I get bored to death watching the old, white, news anchors of Fox News, ABC, and CNBC. These people get all dolled up, sit in front of a camera, and manipulate my brain to make me feel afraid or angry about the world around me. I turn to the out-dated, out-moded, newspaper for answers and find my hands stained black; a mark of my failure to efficiently gather real information about important issues.
Twitter, Facebook, BuzzFeed, YouTube, and a select few online news sources if the journalist is talented enough to keep my attention—these forums for self-enlightenment are excellent. They’re instant, relevant to my interests, and the content creators of these websites are accustomed to dealing with very short attention spans like mine. More appealing to me, is that the information is contestable by each and every reader. All a person has to do is scan through the comments section beneath the post and they’ll instantly be greeted with reactions and fact-checkers of all backgrounds and ages. It’s the perfect cross-section of global society needed to provide one with up-to-date information regarding global headlines. Then why am I so damn uninformed?
Is it sad that I don’t know who the secretary of defense is, but I know to point at somebody’s feet and yell, “WHAT ARE THOSE?!” every time I see a pair of Crocs? I don’t know where Bernie Sanders stands on immigration reform, but I know what Jake from State Farm is wearing. I’ll be damned if I miss a single episode of Modern Family but I couldn’t care less if I miss one of the debates between people who want to lead the country I live in. Why?
At first diagnosis, I looked to myself for the cure. I thought maybe I just wasn’t trying hard enough, that people who were political or who cared about social issues were just super passionate and that I didn’t have that drive. I thought also that maybe I was just too stupid to understand the things that everybody around me debated vehemently. Then, when I actually put my best effort forth and started researching issues, I found that an alarming portion of who I was friends with had no idea what they were talking about either.
The truth is, this isn’t a problem with our generation, it’s the stubbornness and greed of the generation before us that led to this point. Big News doesn’t give a single shit about you or me. All they care about is money, and if they can make you feel worried enough to buy their papers or watch their shows, then they’ll make money and be happy. But that’s not enough for them, because there are plenty of issues in our world right now that should make you worried, they want it to be easy too. It’s easy to say Bernie Sanders wants to make college free, or Donald Trump hates Mexicans, and it’s easy to find “experts” to comment on those statements, it’s not easy to educate an extremely demanding and fiendishly intelligent generation of young people on global discourse.
This is a toxic battle of ideas which leads straight to a scene out of Aldous Huxley’s “A Brave New World,” and it doesn’t have to be this way. As twenty-somethings, we can’t help the way we learn about issues, but these big news companies can certainly adjust the way they distribute information. I’m not saying that the world should cater to us, or that we’re somehow entitled as a generation to special treatment, but you’d think that our parents’ generation would do anything they could to help us succeed. To quote GI Joe, “Knowing is half the battle”—and unfortunately, we’re being disarmed.
Michael is one of those dorks who loves to play chess and will quote Voltaire and Darth Vader in the same sentence with the same level of conviction. He’s easily excitable, passionately accepting, and really wishes that random passersby would let him hug them without notice or acquaintance. He’s a bit quirky, but has a serious side when it comes to politics and religion. Michael also loves to eat.