You are on the couch with a cup of steaming coffee in hand and you can see the sunrise through your window. It’s finally that time of your morning routine where you decide to catch up on the events of the world. You open up Instagram and come across a very professional looking infographic with statistics and figures. You begin to read terms like “breaking news” and “studies have shown” or even “it has been reported.” Have we ever stopped to wonder who is reporting? What studies? Has this been backed by evidence? We tend to take well-made graphics at face value and consider them facts. Have we ever stopped to wonder that this could perhaps be your 14-year-old next door neighbor who knows nothing about the news making a pretty picture with fancy graphs and numbers for the world to see. With Canada blocking the news on platforms such as Instagram, Canadians are now prone to misinformation by accounts disguised as ‘non-profits’ or ‘news outlets.’ There is no way to control or filter through so many accounts claiming to be news. The only way to fight this misinformation epidemic is by protecting yourself.
We must further understand that it is a privilege to have a choice in understanding international events. Many people around the world do not have to learn about news and international crises – they are living them. It is our duty as individuals with means and access to learn about what is going on in the world. Many people around the world cannot sequester themselves in a bubble of privilege and distance themselves from the world beyond the one they live in. At some point, we need to stop orbiting around our own planet and branch on to realize there is an entire galaxy of other planets that also exist.
The abundance of information can be overwhelming, and you can catch yourself sinking while trying to sort out what is the truth and what is not. So here are three simple methods I have adopted to ensure I am staying aware of the world while still staying vigilant of the information and media I consume:
Sometimes all it takes is your ears. Listening to other opinions, perspectives, and experiences of people around the world can broaden the strokes of your mind. This can be listening to friends, politicians, news outlets, or podcasts. One podcast I especially like is Democracy Now. Every day, they release a 10-minute segment highlighting news of the international world. I usually listen to it while I make my breakfast in the morning. It does not have to be daunting, complex, or difficult, sometimes it just takes a few minutes to just perk up your ears and absorb information.
Reading is one of my most adored hobbies. There is nothing I love more than to immerse myself into a fictional world and escape the reality of today. However, sometimes it is important to immerse yourself in a different world than the one you live in, but a real one, nonetheless. I make it a goal to read one non-fictional book a month whether it is an educational book or an autobiography about an individual’s unique experience. Sometimes reading about one’s life like a story is a unique, more digestible way to study experiences and events in the international world. One such book that has become one of my favorites is Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Noah does an exceptional job of exploring aspects of the apartheid, internal racism, and navigating one’s own identity while being biracial through humorous stories and life experiences.
Aside from listening and reading, sometimes the best way to learn more is to talk. Make it a point to surround yourself with people who you can have real, raw, and relevant conversations with. To add to that, emphasize diversity of opinion, experience, and thought in your social circles. There is nothing worse than listening to a song over and over again. In fact, you will miss out on other pieces of music that you could enjoy. The same goes for who you invite to your personal circle. There is nothing more enlightening than talking about an issue or topic and learning from one another. You may both disagree on points here and there, but in the end, you leave having learned and experienced something new.
Misinformation is a dangerous thing we are battling today. So much like any battle, we must arm ourselves. There is not a more powerful weapon in the world than knowledge. Arm yourself with knowledge of the world. Step out of your bubble of privilege and explore the vast galaxy of planets that you may have not even known existed. Listen. Read. Discuss. As cheesy as it sounds, these three things will guarantee you knowledge, and with knowledge, you could quite possibly change the world.