The midterm elections have just finished and it’s got me thinking about how I engage with the news and keeping up with (or not) current events. As an impestuous young adult from 10 to 15 years ago, I decided that I didn’t want to watch the news or read the newspaper and that it was all too depressing for someone who wanted to help change the world into something better, but was overwhelmed by not knowing what to do with all this “bad news.”
So, I don’t have cable, I don’t get the newspaper, I intentionally don’t get into conversations with people about politics, and while I do listen to the radio, it is usually in the car on my way to someplace – not a lot of exposure time. Essentially, I was unplugged from world events, current events, hot topics, election topics and even a lot of pop culture. I was definitely not in a position to do a whole lot to change the world into something better, that’s for sure.
In 2006, my younger college friends convinced me to change social media networks from MySpace to Facebook, which was about college affiliations at the time and a way to make friends and see relationships between people based on the college they attended. I joined this new platform and have been an active member ever since.
Unless you’ve been hiding somewhere under a rock for the last 10 years, you probably know that Facebook is all about being social, posting what you’re doing, your pictures, asking what you should make for dinner, being a philosopher with a few lines or an image, getting ads based on your mined data, blasting immense disapproval of politics or food service and other things of the sort. But what you may not be aware of is that in the last year or so, Facebook has become considerably more populated with articles from all over the internet about all kinds of things. These articles range from news stations, pop culture magazines, science articles, human interest blogs, news releases, newspaper articles and movie/tv reviews.
When I recently had to do an accounting for all the professional development I’ve done in the last year, including articles I’ve read, I realized that I read between 20 – 30 articles every week. I’m not even considered an avid or frequent Facebook user. I’m just average. A quick scroll through my news feed and I find only 3 personal posts, 7 news releases from a newspaper or news station, 6 movie/tv reviews or blog articles, 4 science articles, and 7 human interest articles. And then if I click on one of these articles, there are links to more articles. I invariably find myself on Facebook for hours reading about current events, hot topics, politics from differing perspectives, human interest stories, movie and tv reviews, news releases and pop culture (I love finding “Life Hacks” and organizational designs).
On top of that, if I find a blog writer, newspaper, article author, magazine or news station that seems to be producing good stuff, I follow them or sign up for a blog to get sent to my email and then I’m reading even more.
This is on top of working full time, being a single mommy to a preschooler and working on my master’s degree, so it’s not like I have oodles of spare time where I’m just bored. I’m the opposite. I’m riveted. Facebook has made me more connected, more informed, and more compassionate. It has even taught me to be more patient, more forgiving and practice holding my tongue better when I should. I am in a better place to change the world than I’ve ever been in. And the surprising thing is I’m not overwhelmed. I’m excited and I want to spread the disease of information and being informed and being excited to everyone I know.