By Carina Calderon and Sukhmani Kaur
With the rise of technology, global news is spreading faster than ever. Previously, news took long to read; now, news now takes only seconds to be uploaded and spread. Today, the news on advanced screens overshadows outdated newspapers. With so many different ways to access news, we wonder, how do people acquire daily updates about global news?
To find the answer, we took a poll asking students how they acquire their news. Out of the 73 students interviewed, 40% get their news from social media. The other 35% get their news from television, and the remaining 25% read the news in online newspapers. In today’s society, social media is a crucial and popular resource of information.
Although most students use social media such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, sources such as these are not always reliable. Much of what people think they know from these sources is false. This trend was most apparent when we interviewed students on current events. We asked students about Ebola, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), the Ferguson movement and the conflict between Israel and Gaza.
Ebola, otherwise known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a viral disease that was first seen in Africa in 1976, but has spread with a recent outbreak in Africa once again. It is likely that fruit bats have introduced the virus and that Ebola spreads through direct contact with blood and other bodily liquids, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). When we asked our peers about Ebola, many seemed puzzled.
Not only were some unsure of what the disease was, but they also then began to make up for the information they did not know. One freshman said, “It came from Nigeria. People have to go to Texas and Boston to get treated. Around three to five people have died in America from this disease.”
Social media blew up with the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) ice bucket challenge in which a pours a bucket of ice water on him or herself and donates money in order to raise awareness about the disease. Lou Gehrig’s disease attacks the brain and spinal cords and thins muscle tissue, leading to a loss of control over body movements. However, most of what you can find on ALS on social media are videos of people taking the challenge and challenging others, but very little information on the disease itself.
When asked about ALS, one senior said, “Ice bucket challenge! Is it for the deaf?” When we asked if they knew what the name of the disease is, one sophomore said, “No, I’m sorry. I heard it on the news and on twitter.”
Another current event that has gained a lot of attention on social media is the Ferguson incident. Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teen, was shot and killed after allegedly stealing from a convenience store in Ferguson, MO. Numerous protests followed advocating justice for Brown; however police pushed people back with tear gas, claiming people were not protesting peacefully. Countless people have been arrested and tensions still exist between citizens and law enforcement.
One junior said, “I know that it was like a cop shot an innocent kid or something. He didn’t do anything wrong and then there is a whole bunch of protests and then the police officers were trying to stop the people from protesting violently. I saw it on the news and on Twitter.” Another senior only heard from twitter that “Someone was killed because they had stolen something but the police didn’t know and they killed him for running from the cops.”
Lastly, the conflict between Israel and Gaza also demonstrated holes in students’ knowledge. According to ABC news, the conflict began when Israel accused Hamas of kidnapping Israeli teenagers. There have been numerous arrests, missiles launched, and an incredible loss of life. This conflict has been all over the news, but students do not seem to have paid much attention.
Almost all of the students we asked responded with, “I’ve just heard on twitter that there is tension and war,” or “I have no idea.”
However, this isn’t surprising because of how often we are on social media.
Due to our advancing world, it is obvious that our generation is extremely technologically dependent. Past generations had to pay for the newspaper or wake up early for the daily news, but people today don’t have to. We just scroll through social media and see what’s new. Therefore, most high school students only receive their news from what pops up on their phone.
Social media may tell us what the latest news is in many places in the world, but it is important that we do not rely too heavily on the information we receive on these sites. To become more informed about current events throughout the world, it is important that we rely on other resources such as newspapers and TV news broadcasts to be fully and accurately updated on global events.