Trendy stories aren’t the only stories

Recently, all anyone seems to be talking about is the coronavirus and the Democratic primaries. The attention that’s been given to both are valid as they are both important.

But there’s more that’s happening in our country and the world that ought to be addressed.
Early in the morning on Mar. 3 (which also happened to be Super Tuesday), two tornadoes ripped through multiple counties near Nashville, TN. Twenty-four people died in the aftermath, including 5 children under the age of 13. Numerous homes were destroyed and many trees and powerlines were downed.

Despite such destruction, no one seemed to be paying any attention to it. Days after the fact, there were many people I talked to who weren’t even aware it happened. All that filled my news app were updates on the Super Tuesday polls and more of the same, monotonous updates on the coronavirus.

All this trumped any discussion or coverage of the tornadoes which had torn through Tennessee.

This bothered me. I was disturbed by the fact that 24 people tragically died and no one seemed to care let alone know it happened.

At the same there were eleven coronavirus deaths in the U.S., over double that number had died from the tornadoes and hardly anyone batted an eye.

People have been fretting so extensively over the possibility of getting the coronavirus that they are neglecting other events which are actually happening.

I’m not saying the coronavirus isn’t serious, but I do think it has caused a lot of hysteria which isn’t completely necessary and I certainly don’t think it’s the only thing worthy of my attention.

But the neglect which has been given to Nashville speaks to a larger issue regarding how in-touch people are with the world around them.

It’s sad that it’s gotten to the point where only the top two stories in the news encompasses most people’s knowledge of what goes on in the world. But at any given moment, there are a lot more than two stories that deserve to be acknowledged and discussed.

No one pays any attention to the fact that the last rebel stronghold in Syria was recently subjected to devastating airstrikes, or that hundreds of thousands of Muslims are still being holed up in “re-education camps” in China.

On the same day people learned of the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, there was a shooting in South Carolina which left 2 people dead and 5 injured. I’m not saying people should have disregarded the tragedy of the helicopter crash, but it’s wrong for us to only acknowledge the most trendy things in the news.

And even more recently, Nathaniel Woods, a black man, was executed in Alabama on Mar. 5 for murdering three police officers, despite the fact that another man claims to have done the crime wholly himself.

And the list goes on.

By ignoring things like shootings and systemic racism, we are sending the message that it’s okay for these things to keep on happening. We need to acknowledge these things, as well as disasters like the Nashville tornadoes, so we can construct a society which better supports one another no matter who you are.

People need to stop being so self-absorbed in stressing over whether or not they’ll get the coronavirus, but they should take some time to think about others and learn about the different issues that are facing them.

News publications highlight the stories which they think their audience will find most interesting, thus a lot of what they put out is more of the same. In other words, the media shapes what we read but we also shape what they would have us read. So I think change starts with us.

We ought to put in the effort to look beyond the first two or three stories so that we can put pressure on the media and their algorithms to diversify the stories they prioritize in our feeds. Only then do I think we will be on our way to shaping a truly informed society which is ready to make real change.

While it may not always feel like the things going on in the news are relevant to us, it’s crucial that we put in the effort to be informed so that we have a firmer grasp of the world we’re living in. Otherwise we’re simply living in a distorted reality.