Change the world. People hear it all the time. But not long after people finish watching the thought-provoking movie or staring at the inspirational poster they give up hope. This is because most realize that with their capabilities they will most likely not be able to foil a terrorist groups plan to get their hands on an atomic weapon or establish a coalition that feeds thousands of malnourished in Africa.
While most ordinary people may not have the ability to facilitate extraordinary change that does not mean they should give up completely. Leo Tolstoy said it best: “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Perhaps, in order for the world to be effectively altered for the better, change has to first come on a more personal level.
If somebody were to say that a large percentage of American citizens are not up to date on international current affairs, they would not be too far off. In fact, educated citizens of other nations seem to be just as informed to what goes on in American politics, as Americans themselves are. Some would argue this is the case because American domestic politics have a more substantial effect on the international realm. However, as the society we live in becomes increasingly globalized, the events that occur in far away nations become more and more relevant to the United States. The more knowledge Americans have about substantial overseas events, the more effectively Americans could elect public officials that will make the appropriate decisions.
The simplest way that the world can change is through people becoming more internationally aware. The major problem that is keeping many young adults from reading the news or exposing themselves to media is that they find news to be boring, irrelevant, or not directly accessible. It’s safe to say that while many of these young adults are online the “news” that they are ingesting are things like status updates by someone from their Spanish class, or a picture comment from their aunt. While these may be important to someone in the social realm, they should not be found in a “newsfeed”. To be fair, social networks like Facebook and Twitter allow users to “like” or “follow” news sources so they can get all their information in one place. However, the news these people are getting is coming from sources that have the possibility of just bolstering the person’s views on a topic. Aside from news stations being criticized for having a bias on a majority of issues they too cover things that should not be considered news. They discuss things that are essentially domestic tabloid stories because they are cheaper to cover and bring eyes to the screen.
What if Facebook and Twitter users made statuses and updates about international issues in order to intellectualize the conversation? This would surely result in different views being presented in a realm where friends would be logging on several times a day. There is also the possibility of starting up a second Facebook or Twitter account which is devoted solely to news gathering and sharing. One example of this is the Twitter account known as @Aim2InforM. The account’s primary objective is to “Provid[e] links from various news sources [in hopes] that followers will be more informed about issues that are not commonly found in mainstream media.” The account posts articles from sources like BBC, Foreign Policy, Al Jazeera English, The National Interest, The Washington Post, The Economist, as well as several others. The reason that these were chosen among the many was because of reputations for being some of the least biased names in news. If it became the norm for users to post articles they found relevant and then engaged in intelligent conversations with their friends and followers, then the US would seem to be less isolated because of the knowledge they possess.
Karl Popper, who is regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century, believed “The most violent element in society is ignorance.” More knowledge about international events will certainly not result in world peace however; it will lead to the growth of tolerance. With information and clarity, the world would be a safer, less hostile place.
Really good article.