I am a policy debate coach, so my interest in current events is personal and professional. I get that the world has become a place where people would like to “check out” and “escape” the annoying conversations on social media, etc. But, the recent “Brexit” and the subsequent stories about the vast number of Google searches in the UK on what exactly the “Brexit” meant to the UK (note the “subsequent” in that last sentence…not done BEFORE the vote, but after) makes me worried about our future. I feel as if we (as a society, a generation, a global community) take knowledge for granted and the simplest messages are what we accept and on which we base our decision-making.
I would have no question about this, had it not been for a recent Freakonomics podcast episode: Why do we really follow the news? But, that has set me wondering what is REALLY wrong with people who do this. There is no end to information out there and sometimes it is difficult to figure out what is important and what is not so important. I subscribed to something called The Skimm a while ago and found it to be both informative and entertaining. I liked it as a “read it every so often” daily email. Then, close to the same day I heard the Freakonomics podcast, I listened to Note to Self episode, “What happens when we skimm the news?” without knowing it was about The Skimm. The episode took a somewhat negative view of The Skimm for at least part of the episode, but overall, I thought it was even more brilliant than when I subscribed. I am outside of their age demographic, but knowing how UNaware and UNeducated and UNinterested my students often are in current events, I think this offers them a smart, entertaining and informative way to know more. So, when I saw they had an “Skimmbassador” program, I decided to sign up. I’m not getting any money, but I might get a totebag out of it…if you (and nine of your friends) decide to sign up!
So, what do you think? Do you think our current information-rich society is actually awareness-poor? Or do you think we are TOO aware and therefore unable to make good decisions based on all that information? Do you think millennials are less politically savvy or aware than prior generations or is it another one of those false accusations about this generation?