So I did something a few days ago that seems radical, a real shocker in our culture today.
I deleted my Facebook app.
And I downloaded a news app.
Unless you are a rogue social media-abstainee, you most likely have similar “optimal phone scrolling times” throughout the normal school day in which you normally check Facebook and Twitter. I know I do. The above pictured phone is with me almost every hour of the day. However, this week has been different for me:
While eating breakfast, I learned that the UN and Syria aren’t on the best terms.
Before class, I read Obama’s statements about marijuana legalization.
While pooping (oh come on, we all do it), I read that 26 people were killed yesterday from a bombing in Baghdad.
I could have read an (admittedly enjoyable) article like “40 Most Awkward Dogs of 2013,” but instead I was exposed to the rest of the world.
This morning (yes, while still on the toilet) I found myself considering tweeting the news about Baghdad… this stuff is happening and we don’t even care?!? Our primary awareness is about snow and school cancellations??? I must share this gross misplacement of concern! It was so obvious in the moment. But then I felt an imaginary critic laughing at me. This was a person who DID regularly read the news, and scoffed at my amazement. In any other generation, or any other country for that matter, my impulse to share this phenomenal feeling of being connected with the rest of the world is just silly.
Perhaps my imagined critic is only a past version of myself. Truth be told, these days I only occasionally watch or read the news. However, when I was in Spain, we watched the news at every meal. It was then I learned how to be globally-minded. I actually thought I’d never stop being informed about goings-on worldwide. It seemed ridiculous to not know. But then.. I stopped knowing. I got sucked into America’s self-centric mindset, which is actually just us being naïve, and I stopped watching the news. We have it on sometimes in our apartment, but the typical Millennial doesn’t really know what’s happening in other countries, and I stopped knowing, too.
Then, this week I’d had enough with social media. I appreciate the way that these platforms transcend states and oceans so I can reach out to people I love in other places. I even appreciate that anyone can post their perspective or share their life, but I think we’re all feeling the way both of these things have gone a leetle overboard.
So I was annoyed. I impulsively deleted my Facebook app and haven’t regretted it. I thought, I’ll find a “scrolling-replacement.” Because let’s be honest, those optimal scrolling times will continue to be scattered throughout my day. I’ll probably try and stop the phone-in-the-bathroom thing after all the real and imagined criticism I’ll receive from this post (well, no I won’t), but regardless… the point is I don’t stay on Instagram and Twitter long enough to take up all my usual iPhone perusal time. I thought I’d fill that time with something better.
I typed “news” into the search bar in the App Store and scanned my options. I chose BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) because they stream short articles and videos about every country worldwide (see, even our American news channels don’t extend that far, what is it about us? I assure you, we’re the only country like this). I wondered if I’d really check it all that often. But the way the app is set up, it’s the perfect “time waster,” if I can even call it that.
Did you know that our government recently bugged the phone of a chancellor in Germany, and got found out, damaging the country’s trust in America?
Or that on Wednesday, Thailand will import a 60-day “state of emergency” to cope with unrest?
How about the fact that Google is developing contacts that help people regulate their diabetes?
I even learned that a rebel group called the Farc has been attacking a Columbian town not far from where some family friends are stationed as missionaries. I know this, and now I can be praying for my friends and their community. Maybe that’s not a motivation for you, but for me, it brought the issue of global awareness closer to home.
I’m making a big deal about this, I know. And while it indefinitely shows my ignorance to those who already watch the news, I know I can’t be the only Millennial in this boat. I’m an intelligent undergraduate student in a major that centers around research, reading, and History… and yet sometimes I get stuck in History. I get stuck in my studies (or social media), and forget to keep up with the times. I get the feeling that many, many of us deal with the same.
I’m writing this because I saw clearly our nation’s reputation while in Spain last Spring, and am only recently realizing how easy it is to stay complacent and socially-acceptably partake in the national identity I was disappointed by when living abroad. I’m waking up and snapping out of it, and in the name of “divorcing our iPhones” and stepping away from social media this year, I’m writing this to encourage you to do the same. I admittedly don’t even want to divorce my iPhone completely, although I’m on it much less this year so far. I’ve cut back, but it’s because I’m overwhelmed by social media and I’m making changes. Seems like some of you are sick of it too. Will you try and be more globally-minded with me? I needed a simple place to start, and maybe you do too. If you’re not a scroller/peruser, maybe try and read a news article to replace one of the Buzzfeed and Huffington Post articles you’ll access from Facebook today. You’ll thank me for those feelings of worldly wisdom… it doesn’t take much these days.
This is just one post on an obscure blog, but I want to use my voice to influence our generation away from ignorance. I won’t be the American stereotype any longer. Who’s with me?