I’m one of those people that is the last to be informed of important events and news. I have two television sets, but don’t pay for cable. I get zero channels, which means utter darkness unless I pop in a DVD. I miss every single show everyone talks about. But this also means I don’t see what’s going on in the news. I’ve also never made it a daily habit to go visit CNN.com or an other comparable site to get a daily dose of what-the-heck-is-going-on. I’d literally have to make it a daily habit because I don’t feel like setting aside time in my day to learn about things I feel like I have no control over in the grand scheme of things. There’s no way I’m going to get a newspaper, as the past ten experiences made me realize how much of it gets tossed aside because it’s stuff I’m not interested in. It’s a waste.
How do I get my news? Facebook. If enough people in my news feed are talking about something, (and my reaction is Huh? What’s a Tea Party?) it usually means it’s time to do some digging. If it shows up there, it means it’s made it into daily “conversation” and it’s time to know about it. I wasn’t kidding about the Tea Party. With no television for at least the past five years, and no news or anyone in my life that talks about the news, I stay pretty isolated. I didn’t even hear about it until this month, and I’d heard it mentioned so many times, that I felt it was information I was obligated to find.
So this weekend, I decided to do some digging and went on a news binge. I watched YouTube video after YouTube video on the Tea Party, and looked up the origin of the name on Wikipedia. I looked up what exactly Obama was doing to and with our health care system, and read the entire Wikipedia article on what bills had actually been passed and when changes are expected to roll around. I clicked on more links. Read more. Which brought me to more, which I also read. News stories here and there…. It felt good. I made no difference in the world this weekend, but the information made a difference to me.
I’m always curious about how people get their information, as the system for delivery is often as important as the information itself. I was just wondering how “bad” I really am with this news stuff, or how much of a minority I really am according to my method of learning about things. I learn about things on Facebook? According to a study done by the Pew Research Cener in conjunction with the Project for Excellence in Journalism, I am not as unique as I thought. News shared through social media platforms like Facebook, and Twitter, as well as email is now being referred to as participatory news, meaning we’re sharing and commenting as well. And I apparently belong to the 51% of people reported in the study who use a “social networking site (e.g. Facebook) users who also online
news consumers say that on a typical day they get news items from people
Well hot damn. In a world where the news finds us before we find it, I’m feeling more like I fit in. I’ve taken a very passive approach up until now, even feeling guilty and ignorant for it. Many of my Facebook friends (or at least the ones I can bear to follow in my feed) are not very political, so I don’t see very much of the buzz or opinion. And although politics and world and national events happen to everyone, I only really feel that way when I see hear it from the online “voice” of a friend. Then I know it’s personal.
After this weekend, I’m feeling that perhaps I should go out and investigate more often, even if what I find out pisses me off or makes me roll my eyes. It was fun. I felt like I was doing a good thing. I was even able to update a friend of mine on something she was a little worried about concerning the new health care bill. We’re all part of the engine, whether we stay informed or not. Every YouTube view, every Facebook share is counted and logged. Everybody’s doing it, or damn near.
The minority I do belong to, is that I get my news exclusively online: 2% of people do this exclusively according to the Pew study. I’m not sure I intend to change how I get my news, but I do intend to get more. I felt comfortably full after my research endeavors this weekend, and my natural curiosity led me to more. There’s no right or wrong way, and no amount is better or worse. But I think I’m gonna be involved more than I have been from here on out.