Read beyond the headline


Shannon Coan

While society has been desensitized to the news, paying attention to it still bears importance.

Shannon Coan, Copy Editor

School shooting leaves [NUMBER] students dead in [CITY]. [STATE] passes new bill restricting access to abortion. [DEMOCRATIC POLITICIAN NAME] announces campaign for 2020. Mueller investigation releases [NEW INFORMATION] about Trump’s collusion with Russia. The news these days is full of these headlines. Fill in the blank and you get a cookie-cutter idea of what is going on in the world. We scroll through these headlines, taking them in but just barely as we’ve become desensitized to the weight behind these words.

It’s no secret that the news these days sucks. It’s heavy and it’s hard to read and the headlines reek with disappointing information. With the 24/7 hour news stream, all this information is right at our fingertips. And while this helps us stay informed, this onslaught of news also becomes overwhelming.

We’ve become desensitized to it, to that point that we scroll by a headline saying, “7 injured in a shooting” or “Team doctor accused of sexually assaulting student athletes,” and move on without thinking much of it because that’s a reality we’ve become all too familiar with.

I’ll admit, I do this too. I get a news alert of the newest tragic event, skim it and then swipe to clear. There’s just too much going on, but that doesn’t mean that’s what we should be doing.

And while I agree that there’s not enough time in the day to keep up with everything going on in the world and that the news is way too sorrowing to take it all in, that’s not a reason to tune it all out. Because even though the news is hard, it’s important. It informs us about what is happening in our community and how it affects us, and it allows us to remain civically engaged.

Sometimes it can be important to tune out the news for a bit and give your head a break. If that’s what you need to do to preserve your mental health, then by all means take a break, but don’t tune out the news forever. Because tuning out the news is a coping-mechanism that helps you pretend that the current events don’t affect you, but they do, even if you pretend they’re not happening.

It’s easy to take in what’s going on at a superficial level by scrolling through social media, but I want to encourage you to not just scroll by the headline. Stop, click on the article, and consider the humanity of this situation. Consider that these are people and not just numbers to be added to a statistic.

And while I get that you can’t stay informed about everything, pick something. Pick some topic that you care about or that angers you or that excites you and stay informed. Because the news that’s going on matters, and we’re are all reaching an age where we help dictate the policy that lets the news be the way it is.

I also get that I’m preaching to the choir because after all, if you’ve made it to this point, you’ve definitely read past the headline and, to you, I say thank you. You’re the reason the future will stay well-informed and with that comes the request that you never stop reading even when it becomes hard.

Because after all, knowledge is power, and the knowledge we learn helps us develop our own opinions and ideas from which we can take the first step in creating a better world for our future selves.