Putting the „ME“ in Media
Or: How I learned to watch the news without thinking about the inevitable heat death of the universe
So, this is supposed to be my reflection post. Good thing I like reflecting. Good thing I tend to think a lot more about the past and how things used to be than the future and how things could be. I suppose that’s a weakness. I’ll add it to the list.
Maybe that’s why I haven’t been a big news watcher/reader/listener before — the future tends to scare me a little. And the news aren’t exactly famous for portraying it in a pleasant light. So why tackle topics like the Brexit, wars, hunger, diseases spreading in faraway countries and yes, the heat death of the universe, if I could read a nice article on Victorian Era Britain instead? Because that’s the past. That stuff happened, I can do nothing about it, and I don’t have to feel bad because well, not my fault my great-grandparents weren’t even born when the Boer Wars broke out. You get the idea. And you probably think I’m pretty ignorant, in which case yes, maybe I am. A little. But it’s not like I don’t care. I do care, I even dare say that I care too much.
The future frightens me because the stuff that’s happening at the moment frightens me, and what frightens me even more is the fact that I can’t do anything about it. Or is it a fact? It can feel like one. Because I can’t stop the Brits from leaving the EU. I can’t command people to stop killing each other. I can’t feed the world. I can’t save the environment, because I’m just some random girl in some random town who can’t even feel the planet she’s standing on turn. Watching the news tends to make me feel like that. Small and insignificant in compare to the world’s leaders and the world’s problems, which I honestly am. And sometimes I just want to shut it all out. Pretend like nothing beside my little first-world problems matters, because it makes it all so much easier to bear. Why should I let the news and the internet trigger me? Here’s why: Because I exist.
Wow. Let’s not get overly philosophical here, let’s focus on the facts: I tried to avoid the news a bit, then this course came along and I couldn’t avoid them anymore. It’s that simple. And reflecting on it all, it made me notice two things.
Here’s the first one: I exist and I’m part of this world, and me realising that is as much the news’s fault as some of my past anxiety attacks. Yes, if you really follow what’s going on in the world this planet seems to be a pretty dark place by times, a place to run away from. Sadly, space travel hasn’t been invented yet and we’re kind of stuck here. And while watching the news make me feel like that a lot, all helpless and lost, I came to realise what good a thing it is that I actually feel concerned and involved. That I know that what’s going on is important and will definitely affect my future. That deep inside I’m aware that I should pay attention and listen up. And actually, if everyone would watch the news and feel just like that, it would be a small step in the right direction. Because people might make use of their right to vote and know the consequences of current events. Because people would learn to built knowledge and opinions out of the (sometimes contradictory) news reports. Because we would all feel involved and honestly, wouldn’t that be better? And isn’t that what the news really are for? As John Donne put it, “no man is an island”. I knew it before, I feel it now.
And while I do want to be up-to-date and feel involved, I’d strongly argue for indcluding some more positive stories in the mainstream news. It’s all about the right balance. I mean, no more cat videos please, but how about stories about stuff that didn’t go all wrong? I think humanity deserves that. And regardless of what you may have heard — good things happen. A lot. People just don’t write enough newspaper articles about them.
Alright, here’s the second thing I’ve noticed while skimming through the blog posts I’ve written — they’re not objective. Not at all. And if I was a journalist, that would make me a terrible journalist. Or would it?
All my posts started being about something rather specific — a topic someone way more balanced and accomplished than me could have written well-researched, objective articles about. But I just took something that happened to be on my mind and made it all about me. Things that annoy me. Things I like. Things I worry about. Because again, I feel involved. And I knew that some people would agree and others wouldn’t, I was aware that some people would find it interesting and others wouldn’t. But that’s exactly the lesson about journalism I’ll take from this course — when it comes to it, I like articles with a little bit of personality thrown in them. I want to know what others think, even if I don’t agree. I want to build my own picture out of many different views. Because, honestly — who is really objective? Who’s completely neutral? We should have opinions and be allowed to express them (in a non-violent fashion, to be absolutely clear here).
So now I’ve rambled quite a lot about all of this just to end it on a very simple note: I value this course because it made me think. It made me reconsider things. It helped me see the news and the media from a different angle, and finally, to spot ME in the MEdia (pun intended, I’m sorry). I want to know what’s going on, I want to see possibilities to do something good to the world, if only on a very small scale. Good things just don’t seem to happen? Let’s make them happen. And tell others that they happened.
And really, when I read articles about wars that broke out a hundred years ago, I’m essentially reading the news of the past. And our current news will be part of tomorrow’s past. Kids will open their history books and read all about what effects the Brexit in 2016 had on modern day Europe, and they will pull old articles out of some newspaper’s archive and make class projects about them. And they may not even care all that much, because it’s school work and all in the past. And why worry about the past, right? It’s the future we should keep track of.