Over the summer, a lot of UF students had the luxury of living in a bubble. Some students spent the past three months in the woods as camp counselors. A few used their time off from classes to travel abroad to where they had little-to-no access to the internet. Others went on mission trips, worked at time-consuming internships or just spent their days sleeping for long periods of time. Basically, a lot of Gators were fortunate enough to be gleefully unaware of a lot of the chaos happening around them over the past few months.
Upon reuniting with our friends who had essentially dropped off the face of the planet during Summer Break, we noticed a commonality between them. They were each shell-shocked by the things they were seeing in the news.
After living in the wilderness with hundreds of elementary-school-aged children, our friends who served as camp counselors returned to the real world to find Nazis in the streets. Our friends who spent their summer elbow-deep in work at their internships returned to freedom only to learn minorities in the U.S. were still fighting to be treated like real people. Needless to say, our uninformed comrades had a lot waiting for them when they came back to the real world.
While at first we envied our friends who got to take a break from the news, we realized their short-lived intermission may have not been as great as it appeared.
Just because you aren’t seeing the news, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
As journalism junkies, we pay close attention to the news. Most of our classes in the College of Journalism and Communications require that we follow current events as if our lives depend on it. That being said, we rarely get a break from the news, nor do most of us want one. Thus, we aren’t exactly sure what it would feel like to be uneducated about the world around us.
We can certainly understand the appeal of ignorance when it comes to the news right now. If you don’t know what’s happening, you can’t be upset about it, right? It’s a pretty fool-proof plan. However, it’s nearly impossible to avoid knowledge forever.
Even the most uninformed person sometimes finds themselves in a situation where they are faced with the news and all it’s calamitous accoutrements. The people who shield themselves from newspapers, online articles and the first ten channels on cable will learn months into a catastrophe that the world has been on fire for a while now, and they’ve done nothing to stop it. In our opinion, it’s better to know what is going on, little by little, than to find out all at once in a moment of bewilderment and devastation.
What’s more is that those who don’t know what is going on in the world can’t do anything to help stop it. In the last presidential election, only 55 percent of voting-age citizens cast a ballot. This means 45 percent didn’t use their voice. Had these 45 percent of eligible voters cast their ballot and made their freedom count, the election results could have been entirely different. However, many people choose to be uninformed and therefore let the rest of us down.
Please, dear reader, do yourself a favor and don’t live in ignorance. We are lucky enough to live in a country where we have the freedom to make our voices count. But you can only make your voice heard if you know what you need to be speaking up about.