By SADAF AYAZ
September 3rd, 2018
“Honestly, it’s a grand idea for other social media-obsessed, instant-gratification yearning users around the globe.”
During my 1.5 hour commute back home from the city, you can imagine I flip from one app to another at quite a millennial number of times. From Facebook to Instagram and Snapchat, then back to Instagram and a sweep through my emails and then back to Instagram before heading straight to Facebook only to zip back to Instagram a couple minutes later.
What can I say? I love my Instagram discover feed.
I’d like to believe my commute feels “comfortable” because of the luxury of the unlimited content at my fingertips delivered through multiple visual mediums. It’s quick, easy and above all, it’s satisfying.
More than anything, it seemed like my professor was testing my patience when we were told to stay away from the news for the next two days. Just one hour into my blackout and I couldn’t keep myself away. I decided I would still use all my social platforms but strictly enjoy the evergreen content.
I silently thanked God for not allowing me the luxury of understanding Twitter or else I would’ve been in trouble. Can you imagine? I hear it carries a lot of news in just 140 characters. Honestly, it’s a grand idea for other social media-obsessed, instant-gratification yearning users around the globe. I should probably get to that platform soon too.
To take away any form of triggers, I deleted all the emails in my inbox from The Skimm, the New York Times and The Washington Post. I tried not to take a peek at the summarized headlines as I archived them–I cannot confirm that I succeeded. Even email previews give you enough info to know you’re not missing out too much with subject titles like: “Yes, Egg-Freezing Parties are Now a Thing.”
The thing with a 48-hour news blackout, I’ve realized, is that its effects are determined by our consciousness. It’s quite like telling a child not to eat the cookie in front of him, especially when he hadn’t noticed it before.
I could’ve missed a day, a week or more of news and not have felt too worried–albeit news still pours in from all directions so I’m probably never completely blind. However, being told NOT to check the news brought back all those childish curiosities and the uncontrollable nature of poking at the thing you were told not to go near.
My mind wandered.
I wonder what’s going on with whales in Antarctica?
Apparently, Japan killed 50 of them. I just checked.
I wonder…what new tweet Trump has posted.
Apparently, he had a tweetstorm on Sunday–that I could’ve expected.
I wonder what’s going on with news on climate change--even though I’ve rarely, if ever purposely searched for news on the topic. Not because I’m not interested but the news pops up on my Instagram feed quite often so I find there’s no need to.
See I didn’t even have to really be in touch with all the news to really know about it. At the very least, the overall conversations persist in everyday conversations. “Did you hear about…?” or social media statuses and commentary “Feeling disgusted about…” or “THIS is why XYZ is perfect for ABC…”
It’s natural to share the most outrageous and emotion-evoking content we see, so to avoid news I believe is impossible.
However, being blind to truth is possible.
With many voices come many positives and negatives. We love hearing articles from different organizations or commentary from specific bloggers but the truth is adjacent to a game of Telephone; the truth gets distorted and personalized per person. At the end of the day, even the news is storytelling and everyone consumes it in their own way.
Nonetheless, actively not partaking in having the knowledge of current events was unsettling. Purposely not staying up-to-date made me feel like an irresponsible citizen who wasn’t fulfilling her duties.
Rudyard Kipling once said, “There’s no bigger sin than ignorance,” and I agree.
I write this all despite having at least 2 weeks of unconsciously steering away from the news previous to the blackout. Simply because I wasn’t in the mood. I didn’t open emails from The New York Times containing morning and evening briefings. Nor did I even try to read the articles published by organizations I have as See First on Facebook.
I don’t once recall feeling that guilt then. However, I must say I feel guilty right now. I should’ve been following the news actively regardless of mood.
Following the news is not part of the lifestyles of many people. I used to be one of those people and sometimes find myself falling into the same pattern at a time. However, as knowledge of current events becomes more and more relevant to my work, not being attentive to the news is even bigger of a loss.
Edited by: Ambreen Sheikh