A close up image of paper lanterns hanging from an outside balcony

There’s always something going on in the world, isn’t there? Each day brings news of more injustice, violence or natural disasters. It’s exhausting and, quite frankly, demoralizing. 

The news cycle is constant enough to make complete comprehension impossible. Forget having a job, going to class or meeting up with friends. Reading even just the top headlines from every nation around the world would take up pretty much all of your time.

Yet, no matter where you live, we are connected to the rest of the world now more than any other generation. We have access to information and news 24/7 (thanks to the internet and social media), which offers us some really cool opportunities as well as a higher level of responsibility. 

We are connected to the rest of the world now more than any other generation.

The 24/7 Global News Cycle

Before fifty or so years ago, the everyday person wouldn’t have access to news around the globe, even if they wanted it. Sure, some news would trickle across the ocean about global fashion, the latest band (The Beatles, anyone?) or news of war or elections. Yet, there were very limited resources or updates. Even as newspapers grew more trustworthy and comprehensive, there was only so much room per page. 

Televised news began to change things. The news cycle became constant, and audiences could actually see the effects of current news in real time. Today, anyone can put anything on the internet. The major news outlets will always be owned by a few ultra-wealthy people, but the internet gives anyone a platform, which has democratized news.

Stories that might have gone overlooked or ignored can now find homes and audiences they wouldn’t have before the internet. Marginalized communities can push back against stereotypes and damaging narratives. Everyday people can push back against injustice by telling their stories. 

The internet also leads to conflicting stories, which is not all bad. Since you can expect any story to have a bit of bias, it’s a good thing that you can truly access every side of an issue. Yet, it also takes more work to find the truth between the increasingly polarized narratives.  

Knowledge versus responsibility

Social awareness is important. Yet, if you try to know and care for everyone, every day, then you’ll burn out. It’s impossible to hold all of the suffering in the world. You can’t solve the world’s problems. 

On the other hand, it is important to be responsible with the information you learn. Your knowledge gives you the power to affect the world, in big and small ways. When you are informed on world issues, it gives you the power to make choices. For example, you can choose to learn how to deconstruct your own implicit bias or make informed choices about what you’re buying and who you’re buying it from. 

You have a responsibility to your neighbors to read and learn about other cultures. This allows you to learn how to interact more respectfully with people whose backgrounds are different from your own. You do have a responsibility to the rest of the world.

You have a responsibility to your neighbors to read and learn about other cultures.

When you read about one of any number of companies exploiting workers or using child labor, you can choose to write a letter asking for better business practices, sign petitions or stop buying their products. Also, you can always write to your representatives to let them know you care. Knowing what’s going on and how global trends are affecting your world both near and far, gives you the power to take part in those issues. 

Make your world bigger (and smaller)

As COVID-19 has shown us, national news can quickly become international news. The virus started in a part of China many Americans couldn’t even pronounce correctly. Less than two months later, it’s an immediate concern shutting down schools and business places. Not every international news report will hit this level of crisis of course, but our news absolutely could affect the price of tea in China and vice versa.

Keeping up with international news gives you the opportunity to explore the world from home and learn all kinds of beautiful things. Reading diverse and thorough reporting can be a delightful experience, and good storytelling can help you see the world through a new perspective. 

Lastly, it is important to choose your sources carefully. It can be hard to tell the difference between propaganda, euphemisms and good reporting. Start with the international section of your local paper or TV station and widen your lens from there. Some of the bigger newspapers will have extensive international reporting, especially on their website.

Do you take time to read international news? Why is global awareness important?

Image via Trever Hoehne, Darling Issue No. 7

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