You may not have been able to guess this about me (or maybe you did) but I’m a bit of a news junkie. I have a bit of an addiction where I need to know what’s happening and where.
One of the top few things I’m proud of while being abroad has been my ability to get more in touch with global news and affairs. There’s no better way to know what’s happening in a certain place then to be there and to pay attention. If I’m headed to another country, I feel I should at least know what’s happening there. That’s why I read the news. I want to know, no matter how frustrating and unsettling the news can be.
So while I’ve been abroad I’ve tried to read the local papers, understand the local politics and get a sense of what’s happening where I’m at. But, at the same time, I’m also paying much more attention to global news. That’s because I’m meeting people from all over the world; I’m learning that so many countries’ internal affairs are dictated by external forces from every corner of the globe. This is very much a global society, for better and worse, and I firmly believe knowing as much as possible about the world helps you understand all those little things too.
I know a lot of people who relentlessly believe reading newspapers and watching news broadcasts is bad for you. Many people I’ve spoken to feel that reading the news frustrates and depresses people–unnecessarily so. They’re wrong and this is why.
Because I feel guilty.
I don’t read the news everyday. I don’t even check my e-mail everyday anymore. Back in America, especially while working 9-5, I probably checked news websites every hour like so many other people I know. Now, I get the news in spurts when I quickly download it to my iPod or in the last 10 minutes of my Internet time.
So even though I feel much more “in touch” with the world around me, I’m more distant than ever. There’s this constant feeling in my stomach that there are so many big and positive things happening around the world everyday, and I’m not a part of it. I’m off on a day of “foodspotting” in Bangkok; visiting ancient temples in Delhi; drinking from a coconut in Goa; or even just on Skype catching up with my parents.
I’m beginning to feel guilty for being away for so long (10 months and counting). It’s news from abroad and from home that makes me feel this way. I miss being so connected. I miss being able to say to someone… “Did you hear what’s happening in Libya… in Congress… in Iran…”
Many people may travel to escape the day-to-day news, which I admit doesn’t account for much when taken in single doses. But when news from around the world really adds up, when it amounts to big changes, that’s when I feel guilty.
And that’s a good thing because it’s made me realize what I really want from life. I want to be more involved, not just as a spectator but as…an activist. Activist isn’t the right word–too many negative connotations unfortunately. But I want to be involved with the world around me. With the big things. With the little things. Because it all adds up.