The apathetic student response

Reasons why students might not keep up with the news and why they should

Reasons+why+students+might+not+keep+up+with+the+news+and+why+they+should

Kripa Mayureshwar

Reasons why students might not keep up with the news and why they should

By Kripa Mayureshwar, Monta Vista High School

Even after the insurrection at the Capitol Hill Building on Jan. 6, 2021, discourse about what happened has continued and political tension is at an all time high. 

However, there are also people who have little to no idea what occurred.

Keeping up with the news can seem like a daunting task. Getting the full picture of any situation requires research from different sources because of media bias and contradictory information. It is time consuming and therefore may not be a priority for busy high school students. 

In addition, one may not keep up with the current state of affairs because they feel indifferent. If a situation doesn’t directly affect you, it may seem like there isn’t any need to learn about it. 

The prospect of having to be aware of all the substantial and disastrous events in the world is also frightening. According to an article by Psychology Today, “Negativity bias refers to the fact that humans focus on negative events, information or emotions more than their positive counterparts …This helps explain why the news consistently emphasizes stories on the worst things happening in the world.” 

Being up-to-date on current events is not only time-consuming, but can also be emotionally draining and may lead to deteriorating mental health. For students who already deal with stress because of school and extracurricular activities, keeping up with the news can seem like an added stressor.

The fear of political discourse can also cause reluctance towards learning about current events and politics, especially at a time where cancel culture is so prevalent and an offhand comment can have unfortunate consequences. According to the Pew Research Center, 59% of people feel that discussing politics with people who have different viewpoints is “stressful and frustrating.” It is important to have a learning space where there is room for mistakes, whether that be a discussion group with open minded friends or a politics club at school. 

At MVHS, the opinions of conservative individuals are often looked down upon and there isn’t always room for transparent conversation with them. Being aware that people with different ideologies exist and that they don’t all think the same way is crucial to understanding different perspectives. Discourse with people with different political beliefs also helps prevent harmful echo chambers, where existing views are never challenged.  

What happened at Capitol Hill serves to accentuate the increasing political divisiveness between people with different ideologies. It is our responsibility to stay informed on what is going on. Staying up to date on current events not only informs us about the state of the world and laws and policies that directly impact us, but it can also educate us about our roles as members of a democracy.

Many people mistakenly believe that politics only happen on a federal level and thus feel as though it does not personally impact them. Politics are not just authority figures giving orders at a national level, and viewing politics as something far away can make it seem irrelevant in the average person’s life. Politics impact everybody’s lives, whether directly or indirectly, and an example of this is present at the city and community level —  local advocacy is necessary, whether that’s engaging with local elections or even school board politics. Not caring about politics in general is also an indication of privilege. Overlooking issues that don’t affect you is ignorant, and the blatant disregard for what happens to marginalized groups of people results in a waste of a voice to help those who require support.

Having extensive knowledge about every single situation isn’t necessary and not feasible, but having a general idea of what’s going on is important. Finding a way to engage at a level that works for you is the best way to stay up to date with the news without making it a priority. An example of this might be setting aside 15 minutes to read up on news at the beginning of the day, subscribing to a news outlet like the Wall Street Journal, listening to podcasts while getting ready for the day or even following news organizations on TikTok. And not only that, but it is also key to keep an open mind when discussing what you’ve read about —  a single news article will not give you the full picture of a situation, and basing your entire opinion off of it will not foster critical thinking. Looking at how different news organizations are covering similar issues is a great way to gain insights into contrasting perspectives, and can give you a better idea of the big picture. 

It is much easier to actively be engaged and stay informed on things that directly affect us, and understanding the current state of affairs and policies that affect the people in your community leaves you better prepared to support them. That being said, current events that occur at a national and global level may not affect you directly now, and they may never affect you directly, but empathy is important and we should care about equality and equity, especially from positions of privilege. Getting involved in local grassroots projects and organizations are a great way to enact change at a local level and beyond.

It is impossible to care about all the issues in the world, but especially as young people responsible for the future of our country, we should be informed so we can take action on the issues that require it. Rather than just being an occasional boredom cure, reading the news should be a habit that we cultivate and promote to better the future of our country and the people around us.

This story was originally published on El Estoque on March 12, 2021.