Recently, at a gathering for the Fourth of July, I was having a conversation with a circuit court judge and former district attorney, and since I teach a few classes of government, I couldn’t help but use the opportunity to ask a few questions about the court system and current court rulings delivered by the US Supreme Court.
He playfully asked if I was a news junkie, and I chuckled, but immediately protested because while there may be a negative connotation associated with people who stay abreast of current events, what citizen wouldn’t take the opportunity to understand the court system that affects their life by asking pertinent question of someone who works in the system?
I do believe, as with anything in life, you can go overboard watching endless opinions about the same topic, but I do believe it is crucial to understand what is going on in the world and especially what is going on in your own country and community so that you can be a participant and not a blade of grass mindlessly blowing in the wind. After all, we can’t assume someone else will look out for our best interests (while it would be appreciated). As adults, we must grab hold of the responsibility and not blindly toss it aside.
Having said all of this, everyone will strike a different balance as to how much news to watch/read/listen to and decide on a focus of news that fits best for their lifestyle.
Here are a few benefits of choosing to stay in-the-know when it comes to current events:
If you are someone who loves sports, works in the sporting industry or coaches a team, it is necessary to stay involved with the current scores and highlights; however, focusing on only one component of news will cause you only to revolve in one circle because you’ve only developed that particular part of your knowledge base. In other words, in order to meet people in different arenas and be able to hold a conversation with someone who isn’t immersed in the sporting world, be aware of other events that are taking place in your community, state and country as well.
Ability to Hold Conversations With Anyone
The benefit of being well-rounded in your knowledge of a variety of different topics is that no matter who you come into contact with, no matter what situation you may find yourself in, you will always be able to pick a topic that the person you are conversing with may be interested in. By choosing something of interest, you increase the chancing of wonderful conversation as well as making other person feel comfortable.
Improve Career Prospects
As you stay on top of what is going on, whether you watch the morning news, read local and national newspapers or read your favorite news websites, you become a well-rounded conversationalist. If you are being interviewed for a new job, you will no doubt be prepared on the topics that would be required in your new job, but knowing how those demands tie to the rest of the community and other events that are going on at the moment reveal that you are understanding and cognizant of the world around you, not only making you easier to banter with, but demonstrating to your prospective boss that you can handle the unexpected. For example, while you may be interviewing for a teaching position or nursing position, being aware of the new advancements in technology will aid you greatly as it will help you to stand out from other candidates.
Fill Your Social Calendar
By choosing to read the local newspaper or follow local blogs and websites, you are informing yourself of the goings-on in your town or destinations you will be visiting in the future. Upcoming book readings, winery spotlights at local restaurants, music events, theater openings and various annual festivals are usually shared in your local periodicals. In fact, reading national publications such as Vanity Fair and The New Yorker recently revealed to me news about potential tourist sites I was planning on visiting while in Europe. Had I not read these articles I wouldn’t have realized The Ritz Paris is closed for construction and detailed information about the Tate Museum’s curator that was quite interesting.
Become an Educated Citizen
Most importantly, choose to educate yourself about what is going on in your world. Too many people assume that their vote doesn’t matter, their voice won’t be heard, but the danger is that by taking for granted the premise of what democracy affords us, we toss aside the basic tools for progress, change and improvement to a society that is very capable of correcting its wrongs and righting its ship if those tools are utilized.
One of the most frustrating conversations to have with someone is when they reveal their opinion, and then they have no basis for what they are arguing for except hearsay and what someone else told them. Staying informed requires that you look to credible sources and more then one source to ascertain if indeed the journalist got it right. The random forwards you receive in your inbox and your uncle’s cynicism about politicians spouted off at family gatherings is not something to site as reference. The opposition of any cause would gladly have you blindly go along not paying attention, and that is exactly why you must take your responsibility as a citizen seriously.
So today, contemplate for a moment if you know what is going on in the world around you, outside of your home and social circle. And if you feel you could better inform yourself, choose a medium (television, radio, newspaper, magazines, etc) that would work best with your lifestyle, then decide which couple of publications or productions to pay attention to regularly. You might just be surprised at what is readily available and could improve the quality of your life.