Constant Change: As my eyes opened

Overcoming my aversion to the news


Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Oishee Misra

I have a confession. I used to hate reading the news (yes, and ironically now I’m an El Estoque reporter). But really, I’m dead serious when I say that in spite of the numerous attempts by my politically-obsessed father to make me even the slightest bit informed, every time the TV was airing the news, I’d walk away. Every time my father tried to strike up a dinner table conversation about current events, I wolfed down my food and escaped as soon as I could (this was also my defense for never clearing the table, definitely not because I’m lazy).

I’m probably coming off as a tad stubborn, dumb or just plain weird. My aversion towards the news did stem from a reason, one that wasn’t even irrational. I hated the news because it was too depressing. Every time I attempted to watch, listen to or read the news, I would hear about a bombing. A rape. A misogynistic tweet. A failing economy. I could go on and on, but my point is that the news only seemed to be a haven for featuring the next new epidemic that plagued our world, and for the self-centered me from five years ago, it was just too depressing (I had yet to conform to the prevalent and cynical MVHS mindset).

Eventually, I changed. I don’t have some inspiring anecdote about my change, though. I didn’t just read a news story that changed my life, restored my hope in the world and made me realize the importance of being informed — that’s not what happened. It started bit by bit. For a couple of months, I would skim headlines. The next couple months, I’d read the first paragraphs. And now, well, I swallow them whole (usually not the ones about sports, because after 15 years of struggling to understand them, I’ve given up).

I’m not sure what changed or why I decided to start doing something I was so against. Maybe it was because I matured (despite the fact that I still act like I’m five and sometimes watch “My Little Pony”). I matured by discerning my privilege. I realized that being an only child, living in Silicon Valley, having a stable family, a lot of friends and essentially having most things handed to me on a silver platter put me in a unique position. A position where even though I hadn’t read the news for a majority of my life, it didn’t matter. These issues didn’t affect me — or so I thought.

I believed nothing I read on the news would have any relevance to my own life — these were different people, different problems, different lives. But I realized that’s not entirely true, as there are a million other people like me who face similar problems.

One day, I might have to pack up my bags and abruptly say goodbye to Cupertino. That sounds a little dramatic (they’ll probably let me go on a boba run one last time), but in all seriousness, I am an immigrant with a complicated VISA situation and I live with a sort of uncertainty every single day. And in an era where the political climate seems increasingly opposed to immigration — be it illegal or legal — my future is bound to be filled with an endless cycle of student VISAs, waiting for greencards and who knows what else.

So when articles about immigration policies appear on my news feed, I click on them. I read them. I analyze them. (And if they have anything to do with some ridiculous tweet by our so-called president, I forward links to my friends to alternatively rage and laugh at).

I have developed this ferocious need to stay informed, regardless of whether it’s about issues that plague our society or those that pertain to me (my dad is naturally pleased about this, but more so about the fact that he has a new person to aggressively argue with and make fun of).

And as depressing as they may be, they’re important. Because if we didn’t know about sexual assault allegations, maybe even more men would continue to conform to this idea of toxic masculinity. If we didn’t know about wars being waged on the other side of the world, maybe we wouldn’t even be aware of the violence and oppression all over our planet, let alone take the first steps to halt it. If we didn’t know about the deadly quake in Indonesia, maybe we wouldn’t take the steps necessary to provide aid and save lives. And if we didn’t know about inflation, maybe we wouldn’t know to drink more boba now because who knows how much it’ll cost in the future (not that it’ll stop me).

But it’s not only the negative news we need to be aware of — silver linings need awareness too.

If we didn’t know about the 28 countries that have legalized gay marriage so far — as opposed to the mere 8 that had done this before 2010 — maybe the gradual acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community would’ve been even slower. If we didn’t know about the Nobel Peace Prize winners, maybe we would left unaware about the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war — and lose a glimmer of hope, because even though our world seems like it is a hot mess (get it, global warming, ha), there are people out there salvaging it.

All my rambles and tangents aside, the news is invaluable. So yes, maybe it used to — and still does — make me sigh with despair, but I’m just one of 7.5 billion people on our planet. I plan to be one that has at least some awareness about their lives, be it good or bad, and this is a choice I’ll never regret making. The world is constantly changing, and despite the bouts of cynicism it’s inflicted me with, there’s nothing I would change about me opening my eyes to it.