Be an informed citizen

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In 2017, we have more access to information than ever before. The media has strategically changed the way information is presented to the audience; tapping in to social media and smartphone-friendly technology. To be informed of the world’s events has been made simple. The media understands were it not convenient, today’s audience simply wouldn’t engage with the information being given to them.

While many people use this access, and acknowledge the importance of being an informed citizen, there are still alarming amounts of people who choose not to be politically or globally aware.

“The news is negative”, they say, or “politics aren’t ‘my thing’”.

Politics everywhere have become increasingly tense and divisive, so I can imagine many believe this would not be the time to become involved. But I would argue this is precisely when it is necessary to be informed. To be unaware of major political issues in times such as these is, quite frankly, irresponsible.

Times of division are times in which history is made. Trump’s presidency, global tensions, race relations and women’s rights are just a handful of the incredibly important issues being brought to the forefront. If you are not aware of these issues, how can change occur? When only a fraction of the population is engaged, how can democracy work to its fullest and best extent?

The unfortunate reality is that the news is, more often than not, very negative. To be confronted with difficult issues is often very tiresome. Why, then, is it necessary to put ourselves through such negativity?

I would much rather be confronted with negative news, and therefore have the opportunity to fight for what is right and just, than live in ignorance.

How does one become an informed citizen? If you’re reading this article, you’re off to a good start!

Subscribe to your local newspapers and news stations, use tools such as social media to see what is happening in the world around you. Engage with multiple different sources with multiple different viewpoints to ensure you are engaging with ideas that are different than your own. Fact-check and confront both the bias in the media, and the bias you hold as an individual.

Being an informed citizen means being a responsible citizen. It allows you to hold people in power accountable. It grants you power as an individual. They say knowledge is power for a reason.

I have become increasingly disheartened by some of my fellow citizens’ lack of awareness, and the spread of misinformation that follows.

So, take the time to learn about your local mayoral and council candidates in the upcoming election. Take the time to learn about global news and how it affects you.

To vote as an uninformed citizen is irresponsible, and I believe to walk through life in fear and ignorance is equally irresponsible.

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