Commentary

Selectively Unaware

I was sitting in my only big lecture class the other day and received a bit of a surprise. My professor was talking about the factors that go into how we decide where to live and build cities, even though we may be in a flood plain, on a fault, or in New Orleans. Now, I have to give my class at least a little benefit of the doubt because a lot of them are freshmen and are still shy about raising their hands.

But when my professor asked how many of us had heard that New Orleans had been evacuated, hardly ten people raised their hands. It seems to me that unless news is your major, in college you pay less attention to what's going on in the outside world. I know I'm guilty; I only found out about New Orleans the previous night when my parents caught me up.

Of course there will be variations in every population, but as a general trend, other people have remarked also that the current generation of teens and twenty-somethings is the most detached generation regarding world events. I'm glad to see some of my fellow bloggers writing about political issues because it shows me that at least some of us young people are actively involved in the larger society.

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Nevertheless, it still amazed me that in spite of the technology and media saturation that targets us, so few people were aware of a significant current event. It seems that it would take effort to be so oblivious to what's going on in our own country; but from personal experience, it's actually quite easy. Students today are busier than ever, not having time to watch the evening news or do more than skim through the paper.

But there is hope! In a different class this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to hear my fellow classmates requesting that we take our daily quizzes on the same sheet of paper from week to week. Global warning and climate change are serious issues that have been brought into our social conscious not by the scientists who first collected the data, but by the media. This suggests to me that it's not that my generation lives under a proverbial rock, but that we are concerned with a different kind of breaking news. Social issues such as global warming and politics are at the forefront of our minds and not, perhaps a bit selfishly, what is happening several thousand miles away.

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