Why is Learning About the World So Hard?


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By Ilene Friedman

United Nations' high-level week kicked off with the Global Citizen Festival and Mashable’s and UN Foundation’s celebrity-filled Social Good Summit. One of the biggest themes this year was youth involvement. The irony is: “youth” aka our generation is not involved (shocker).

We are continuously told to get our friends, family, and network involved by spreading the word on global issues. You would think in the age of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat this would be easy. But surprise, surprise, it’s not. Now, why is that?

Learning about what is going on in the world has become a homework assignment no one wants to do. I would much rather be stalking Chris Evans, and looking at Kim Kardashian’s latest maternity outfit than reading about the refugee crisis or global warming. I mean Chris Evans' having a beard or not is incredibly important to my mental well-being (team Lumbersexuals).

So the big question: how do we get our generation involved?

Problem 1: How And Where We Get Our News: Let’s be real, we get our “news” from whatever is trending on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. We do not follow the New York Times, Wall Street Journal or Foreign Policy, because we do not find it interesting. Give me a 3- minute video on the Buzzfeed Try Guys Doing K-Dramas any day over reading someone say stuff (and yes, world problems are categorized as stuff; we aren’t invested).

Solution 1: Fandoms Are Alive And Well: If the global community really wants to engage us, they need to adapt to what we are looking at. This means show us the celebrities. Look at Taylor Swift; she has 64 million followers. The Global Citizen Festival was a step in the right direction; you got us hooked and now you don’t know what to do with us. If someone we admire and worship cares, then we are going to care, and probably do what they say so we can support them!

  • Example: The Firefly and Joss Whedon fandom alone raised $3,156,178 for Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion’s web series Con Man in a few hours.

 Problem 2: We Do Not Know How To Get Involved: Our generation tracks tags. We see things like the Nepal Earthquake, the Ebola Epidemic, and the #HeforShe campaign; but we do not know how to help. We actually do want to do more, but do not tell us to donate; we’re all broke as hell. Our generation can’t find jobs, the economy sucks, the sea levels are rising, and we are basically all screwed.

Solution 2: We Are Minions: We want to help, and we want to contribute our skills. Program, design, engineer, and volunteer; we can do it all. We can give you manpower and product, but not money. However, we do not know who or how to give any of this. Instead of a donate button, there should be a “Get Involved” button. We can write articles, make graphics and programs, and so much more.

Problem 3: You Aren’t Where We Are: We love activities: sports, music festivals, Comic Cons (aka wherever there are hot attractive people, we want to be). So, where the hell are the global advocates at these events? Most young professionals have to go out of their way to find events that can impact global issues, especially events we are even allowed to attend.

Solution 3: We Like To Party: We like parties; we like going to events that have celebrities, writers, and directors. What we like even more is events that can build our resume and lead to jobs (Give us money). So maybe make volunteering and helping the world a little more fun. Throw parties, special screenings, career fairs, etc., I bet 100 bucks that if Charlize Theron threw a party for her Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project: CTAOP, and young professionals were allowed to attend and volunteer at it, there is no doubt they would come out and hoards.

  • Example: Colleges host huge music events, why not attach them to issues, like Rock The Vote!

If you want us to be involved, help us get involved. I would recommend taking a note from the entertainment industry: Because at the moment the people who are involved in the global community are the exception, not the rule.




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