Popping the news bubble

I confess to ignorance. I did not know that Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize until late last week, almost a full week after the announcement. One would think that such a relevant issue to my young generation would spread like wildfire across the Lake Forest campus. But it didn’t, and I don’t think I’m alone in pleading ignorance. I would safely wager that many people still don’t know about it, let alone any other major world issue that’s happening right now.

In college, there seems to exist some kind of bubble that prevents outside news from creeping into our little community. Students may know the agenda of their particular club and even keep abreast of campus events, but when it comes to having an opinion on world events, many people plead the fifth.

Not that I can blame them for this lack of worldliness. Sometimes situations that hit closer to home – budgeting for a club, homework for tomorrow, or a family member’s health problems – take up so much time that we college students feel that we would have to go out of our way to read a newspaper or turn on CNN. I know I’m guilty of this. After a long day of meetings and classes, learning about the growing dissonance in Pakistan seems rather unappealing when compared to killing zombies on my Playstation.

Back in high school, I was more aware of the happenings in the world for several reasons. Before leaving for school every morning, my parents would have a copy of either the Chicago Tribune or our local paper on the table. While I ate my cereal, I busied myself by glancing through the paper. In the evening, I would occasionally join my parents for the nine o’clock news or I’d flip on the Daily Show for a survey of the day’s headlines.

What can be done to regain my worldly knowledge? I believe a number of steps taken both by the College and myself can make students more aware of world issues. I am a strong believer in the power of newspapers. While I don’t feel it’s our College newspaper’s job to reprint world news, I think upping the school’s number of subscriptions to the big dailies would help. Copies of the Tribune, New York Times, and even news magazines placed around the cafeteria during breakfast hours would give early birds something substantial to gaze over.

I also think our college democrats and republicans should be encouraged to hold more informal gatherings. Granted, they’ve held events in support or protest of one issue or another, but maybe getting a group of people together to watch the nine o’clock news would go a long way. Instead of feeling like a lecture, becoming informed would be more of a social event.

Of course, the biggest factor that can alter my world awareness is myself. Various groups in the area do aim to educate about issues happening everywhere on the globe. If I pay closer attention to them and check out some of the news websites several times a week, the knowledge I’ve gained will help me infinitely – both in school and out. My generation has a power over public policy we’re only beginning to realize. Staying on top of current events is one way to effectively wield that power. You might notice me in this process of becoming informed; I’ll be the one trying to keep his head out of the sand.

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