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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Look between the lines for true information

Published: April 4, 2014
Section: Opinions

It goes without saying that college students are tremendously busy. Whether it pertains to academics, extracurricular activities or socializing, one’s schedule is often teeming with an array of events. As perpetual as this cycle may seem, it is still important to remind ourselves of what occurs outside of college. Everyday history is being shaped, in ways that go unnoticed by thousands of people. As we pride ourselves on keeping an open mind and connected to several crucial issues, it is imperative to go beyond simply knowing about what happens in the world, and understand what that change means for the future and indeed, for ourselves.
Every now and then, you will find yourself scanning your Facebook newsfeed out of sheer boredom. As you scroll through the interminable posts, a Huffington Post article will likely emerge with a glaring headline, which one of your friends has shared. If you happen to click on the article it will likely lead you to a site in which the main points of a certain event are delineated, but with little context or in-depth analysis. This brevity attributed with many social sites that also contain news, is not necessarily a fault. The objective of sites such as the Huffington Post is not to deeply educate the masses but rather to inform them. The challenge then lies in us, the audience, to take from “headline news” what we will and expand on it by pursuing matters further. Being cognizant of events around us is great, but it is the first step of many.
The implications of major events, from domestic affairs to foreign calamities have real-world implication that no one is immune to. As distant as the Crimean crisis or the Syrian civil war may seem, these are events that culminate in forging the path of history. This path is always subject to change, and the more informed and knowledgeable we are as a collective society, the better able we will be to forge that path in a better direction. Finding solutions to such elusive issues is not easy, but it is worth the effort to become as informed as we can, so we can evaluate the solutions put forth by those whose job it is to do so.
The potential we have to garner all this information is boundless. For every global matter, there is a plethora of information available at the touch of a button. We often take for granted the vast resources we have to learn. The internet itself can provide us with so much, as all college students will eventually find out through the course of their academic career. The most important aspect, however, is creating a context for everything around us and adding to the foundation we get from the news and social media. We need to use our own reserves of knowledge. When we have built this reserve up for ourselves, the debate surrounding any issue will take up more importance and make much more sense.
It is easy to distance global matters from our individual lives, especially when they do not seem pertinent in any way. How is your physics major related to the politics of Austria? What does climate change legislation have to do with philosophy class? These are all questions that easily arise when we consider different events. In the end, the goal of a liberal arts education is to tie everything around us together. To take what we gain from school and observe in the world around us. We need to strive for optimum solutions that make the world a better place. Even if what we study now and what happens outside our lives seems drastically unrelated, everything is intertwined.
With the advent of social media, the technological realm is nothing like it was a decade ago. Information is constantly pouring into all of our newsfeeds from all corners of the world. It is up to us, individually, to make the decision of just noticing it or acting upon what we learn to make a difference in the future.