Staying Up-to-Date on Social Issues

Let’s face it: we’re all really busy. Arguably, we’re too busy, but that’s a rant for another day. Most of us don’t have the time to sit down and read the entire paper cover to cover every day, and let’s be honest—unwinding after a long day is much more enjoyable with an episode of Parks and Recreation than with the evening news.

At the same time, we have a responsibility to educate ourselves on what is going on across our country and the world. Technology has continued to shrink the globe and our world is as small at it has ever been. There is no excuse for us, as people with unlimited access to an endless supply of information, to be ignorant of the events, struggles, and triumphs of our global family.

So, how do we balance our busy schedules with being responsible and socially conscious individuals? It’s not as difficult or time consuming as you may think. Here are three ways that you can stay up to date on the latest news without making it a full time occupation:

1. TWITTER

I know what you’re thinking, but no, Twitter is not just for celebrity feuds and pictures of cute puppies (although I’m much more interested in the latter than the former). I’m being honest when I tell you that I get much of my daily news on Twitter. By following various news outlets, causes dear to your heart, and government organizations, you can consume small but important snippets of news throughout the day. Generally I scroll through my Twitter feed while taking a break from another task and “favorite” the stories that I want to revisit in depth. When I have a free moment, like my hourly snack break or a longer than necessary wait at the bus stop, I sift through my favorites of the day and read the linked articles.

Recommended accounts to follow:
@nytimes
@UN (and other affiliated United Nations accounts)
@hrw


2. PODCASTS

Listen, if you haven’t discovered the incredible medium that is the modern podcast, consider this the first day of your new life. You can find podcasts on pretty much anything, from cooking to foreign languages to sports. The best part about podcasts is their inherent multitasking capabilities. Want to catch up on the news in the morning but you have a hot curling iron in one hand and your Greek yogurt in the other? A podcast is the answer. Just download episodes to your phone from the iTunes store and delete them once you’ve listened. My recommendation for a great daily podcast is the BBC Global News Podcast, which releases two 30-minute episodes a day covering a wide array of world events. Listen as you’re getting ready for the day, sitting on that long bus ride to or from the office, or as you settle in at work.

3. EMAIL NEWSLETTERS

I’m not sure a person exists who believes that she needs more email, but hear me out on this. As you make the conscious effort to read (and listen to) more about current events, eventually you’ll find that certain news outlets and writers speak to you on a deeper level than others. Frequently you’ll find that well-known journalists will have their own daily or weekly columns that have a subscription feature. My personal favorite is New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof, who writes twice weekly on issues that I’m passionate about, like women’s rights, poverty, and foreign and domestic policy. By signing up for his newsletter, I receive access to his columns without needing to subscribe to (ahem, pay for) the Times. Find causes you care about, and voices that speak to you, and dive in.  

This list is obviously not an exhaustive roster of how to immediately become well-informed. Staying up to date on current events has to be an active choice we make every day. Media like novels, nonfiction, documentaries, radio, and television programming (oh, and blogs!) are also important parts of becoming a responsible global citizen, but I’ll save those for another day. For now, start by incorporating the easy steps outlined above into your everyday ritual and find yourself reaping the benefits of being more knowledgeable and empathetic.

Next step? Find yourself an invite to a swanky dinner party and be prepared to impress…

Remember to carry the beautiful,
Katie