Sunday, May 19Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

The Meaning of News

All day, every day, our lives are permeated by facts and knowledge of others than ourselves. We spend hours of our time checking Twitter and Facebook, updating, liking and reading about other people’s lives. But how much of what actually matters do we absorb? How many young people prefer to spend their time online checking up on celebrities and football, on films and music, and yet barely notice anything of significance that appears on their feed. I am not saying that as young people we should be disregarding these things which make essential elements of our culture, but surely there should be a more even balance?

I feel that many of my peers care too little about what is happening in the wider world, as they remain ignorant towards the world around them. Occasionally, events can filter through if the impact is big enough or they happen to the right people. However, world events, mostly, are being dismissed. For example, on the day of the Peaches Geldof’s tragically young demise, my twitter was filled with friends and acquaintances mourning her untimely death, empathising with the loss her husband and children were facing. Yet, when 200 girls were kidnapped from a Nigerian school by terrorist group Boko Haram, there was barely a flutter; no acknowledgement. But why? Can they not empathise with these girls; imagine their own fear in this situation just as they imagine the loss of the Geldof family? Do they not feel as personally involved with these girls, despite the fact they probably never knew Peaches Geldof either? I couldn’t and still cannot figure it out. Why is the tragic death of one celebrity worth more to so many of our peers than 200 lives?

Obviously there are young people who care about current events, who observe the news, discuss it and spread it. There are young people who are actively involved in it; be it charity work or partaking in protests. Of my immediate circle, I have noticed that the level of interest a person has in current affairs is normally significantly higher if that person attends university – an encouraging discovery, although somewhat expected as our campuses provide us with a place to debate and argue current affairs. But what of those who don’t attend?

They are equally intelligent, equally a part of our society and probably have the luxury of current TV with more than a handful of channels which students are so often without, so why do they not seem interested? Are their lives too busy with full time jobs? Do they just not care? Or are they equally interested, but unlike students, haven’t been surrounded by people with whom they know they can discuss complex topics? Either way, there must be a way to find some kind of equality between news and celebrity culture, a balance which means that people recognise the significance of events outside Hollywood and preferably before the world is taken over by the Kardashians and One Direction, and all hope for humanity is lost forever.