Just because something does not affect you does not mean it is not happening.
Crisis is a part of the human experience. As students who are entering adulthood, certain things can seem challenging to us. How do we navigate through a certain crisis that we will surely face in our lives? How will we face problems that involve balancing school with our social lives?
Young people have a lot of power in everything that they do, hence the phrase ‘actions speak louder than words.’ However, we cannot act if we do not care, and we cannot care if we are not informed.
Years ago, when something tragic such as the 9/11 attacks on America occurred, we would hear about it for weeks on end until, finally, our political leaders and the people of national importance stepped in and did something to solve the problem.
However, with the growth of the internet and the introduction of social media, the news production cycle eventually became shorter. News is produced much faster today than ever before, which creates a constant rotation of information overload. We have lost our ability to connect to the situation because as soon as something happens, it disappears under the overflow of new news.
We see this problem in the recent news that the Amazon has been on fire for about four weeks. Meanwhile, activity on Facebook, Twitter and other media outlets have flooded the news scene with information about other things. One such example is the recent break between Sony and Marvel over the ownership rights of Spider-Man. News that is important is sometimes overshadowed by news that holds cultural appeal.
What exasperates this is the ease with which individuals can become commentators. It is easier than ever to draft emails to people of political influence, especially with the advent of bots that can send the same letter to all congressmen and women at once with the click of one button.
This creates a disingenuous environment where politicians might not even be able to read all emails and letters sent to them because of the sheer amount that are able to be produced.
While some of the blame can be placed on the news media and its three-day coverage of the latest outrage, we need to remember that we, everyday people, bear some of the responsibility of this problem.
We are the ones who share memes, funny videos and celebrity drama on our social media accounts, which are now also the dominant platforms for sharing news.
This quickly becomes a happy distraction from the issues that significantly impact us and the world around us, even if they are negative.
We must remember that we can choose to combat the problem of apathy, but only if we decide that we want to have that power.
It is admittedly true there is nothing we as individuals can personally do to stop the Amazon from burning. Our water buckets are too small and we lack the transportation to travel there.
We can each do our part to decrease the amount of clutter in our news landscape by focusing on sharing news stories about topics that involve us and our communities.
Sharing news stories surrounding issues of importance to us will help raise awareness and ensure these problems are not forgotten.
The only way to fight apathy is to create a presence for yourself in everything you do. Allow yourself to be passionate about something that affects the world, and pursue it. Raise awareness for the issues that matter to you and your community, and do not pawn off your attention for someone else’s gain.
Neil Postman put it this way in his bestselling book in 1985: “Amusing ourselves to death: Public discourse in the age of show business,” talking on the topic of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley: “... Orwell feared what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that our desire will ruin us.”
Our desire to be entertained and not burdened with bad news is overcoming the necessity to be informed about what is affecting us, and it is creating a generation of individuals apathetic to the plights of others around the world.