Hey, you might learn something

I have a confession – I love reading the news. From the BBC to The Jakarta Post, I devour it all. News is a staple of my everyday fare, much like food is to the average person. My day begins with The New York Times, which draws me in like a scrumptious crostini topped with diced tomatoes and drizzled in olive oil.  Then Al Jazeera starts to call, a delectable spicy combination of lamb and rice. Le Monde, in original French of course, has the final word like a luscious éclair. As you can tell, I am currently ravenous. What else could lead one to crave such a strange combination of delicacies? But let’s move on to serious matters. There was a tragic incident in one of my classes last week and I simply must share the story with you. The professor had been lecturing on politics, when suddenly he asked the class “What is going on in Libya right now?” A thick silence descended on the classroom. A fly buzzed angrily around the projector. The guy sitting next to me scribbled a question mark on his paper. No one in the entire class had any notion of what was going in Libya, even though the top news story of every major network was that Libyan fighters had made progress in capturing Sirte, the home base of ex-leader Muammar Gaddafi. For claiming to be such an aware campus, I would say that UVM loses some serious points from this incident. To confirm my budding suspicions, I started asking everyone around me if they read the news on a daily basis. Alas, less than half admitted to perusing even one news source daily.   Despite my personal affinity for reading the news, I understand people’s reluctance. Death, destruction and celebrity incarcerations only go so far in whetting one’s appetite. But when you curl up in your Snuggie and log on to Facebook, you miss out on the excitement of what goes on in the real world that you inhabit.  So, why should you read the news? Allow me to unveil my three-part answer. Firstly, the news applies to almost all of your classes in some way. When your Economics teacher mentions supply and demand, you can smugly raise your hand and explain how Denmark imposing a tax on fat will affect the production and sales of cheese. Secondly, knowing tidbits about the world at large is perfect for avoiding awkward lulls in conversations or during job interviews. Instead of inspecting your cuticles or muttering something about the weather, you can whip out the question, “Have you heard about the students in Chile demanding better education?” In seconds you sound both intelligent and informed. Lastly, if you should decide to have kids – serious caution advised – and when they ask you what went on in the world when you were in school, you can say more than just “Uh, 9/11” before running away to file your taxes. The news is great. It’s free, easy to access and you can choose to read headlines or entire articles. At the very least, spend 15 minutes on Sunday getting a feel for what happened in the past week. You’ll learn cool facts and have something interesting to share other than what your current Facebook status is.