I know people that no longer read and follow the news because of the constant depressing and negative things going on around them. They described the moment they took the decision as somewhat liberating, citing they slept better at night and that they had a more positive outlook on life. It is understandable, especially given that every time you pick up a newspaper, it packed full of the same or similar stories dominating the headlines. However, switching off from the world might not be the best solution. By doing so, we run the risk that we unaware of important things that directly affect us and only act when it is too late to stop from happening. The truth is that though many media outlets are somewhat biased, swinging more to the left or the right, they do serve a purpose. By exposing injustices, holding people to account, educating us on what is going on around us and of course, the warm and uplifting stories showing extraordinary human behaviour and kindness.
Ignorance can be bliss, take Brexit. Living in the United Kingdom (UK) before and after the referendum, we have had three years of being bombarded with commentary. Stories that foretell the downfall of the UK and how much money the country is wasting through membership of the EU, all designed to sway the public one way or the other. Now factor in world news, impeachments, Donald Trump, trade wars, climate change and companies going bust. All of the headlines follow a constant and similar theme, making it hard to follow and keep on top of what else is going on. We are also in the midst of a social and cultural change, with many millennials getting their news updates from social media. With some of the stories presented as fact, when they are fake news or short sentences which often attempt to summarise and explain complicated subjects.
Most featured stories are important and likely affect our daily lives. However, there are also things going on that are not getting the right attention or worse, not being covered or featured at all. Governments and companies alike pushing through their agendas and changes under the radar with very few aware of what is happening until it is too late. If I said hundreds of people had been murdered yesterday, because of their sexuality, in the early 2000s, there would have been outrage and worldwide condemnation to the perpetrators. Now it is just a news story that disappears after a few days. Some issues get raised, typically when a celebrity tweets, however, many other stories go unnoticed. The most significant cause is that we are all now conditioned to bad news. Many important things being trivialised with people in authority not being held to account. We all to need to wake up before we sleepwalk into disaster.
It is not just an LGBTQ+ related issue, but much broader, for example:
- US states are reviewing legalising abortions
- Uganda has introduced an anti-homosexual bill
- Russia introduced the sovereign internet law
- Indonesia introduced laws relating to sex outside of marriage
- Brunei planned (now suspended) to introduced the punishment of stoning to death for convicted homosexuals
These are just a few examples of the hundreds of things going on around us right now, do not believe me? Hunt and search through various media outlets for news stories relating to your country and local area, you will be surprised.
To ensure we do not fall into a dystopian future, where the laws and rights many fought hard to implement are not reversed. Where we go forward rather than backwards, we all must seek out the news. For example, it is easy to create a google alert (https://www.google.co.uk/alerts) in which you enter keywords important to you, and if a story appears associated with those words, you will be alerted. When you find stories that are being buried, tag them, share them with your friends and family, post them on social media. If it is something you feel passionate about, message your representative, but ultimately get involved and be heard.
When we all are awake to what is going on around us, we can hold people to account. When we all mobilise on crucial issues, we can ensure that we do not wake up one day surprised that the world around us has changed, for the worse.