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Marlena Bradford Headshot

The Current Events Bubble

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Before I started college, I saw it as representing my emergence into adulthood -- that moving out of my mother's house would make me an instant adult. I was moving from the insulated and coddling bubble of high school to the real world. After a week or so at school, I had come to the realization that I had gone from one bubble to the next.

As a freshman, I live in a dorm and have a meal plan. Someone makes my food for me and someone else is cleaning up my bathroom -- not exactly the life of most adults. Off-campus students have a higher degree of responsibility, but are ultimately in the same boat as those of us who are "dorming." While many of us (myself included) have part-time jobs, our full-time job is going to school, and this provides a considerably lighter and more flexible schedule than if we were truly living off on our own and supporting ourselves.

This kind of bubble really does not worry me as I, like many of my peers, am not ready to join the world at large. College gives one many things, time being among them. Time to explore interests, time to be immature and, I hope, time to grow up. What concerns me is another type of bubble I've seen here, one that seems to be impervious to current world events.

I'm not sure if this is generation-wide, but a good number of my classmates are largely unaware of current events, both foreign and domestic. A prime example of this is the recent Kony 2012 movement. I'm not going to criticize Invisible Children, the organization behind the movement, or go into all of the controversy surrounding it (and boy, is there ever a lot, especially now that its co-founder Jason Russell has been detained for public masturbation, amongst other things), but rather focus on the reaction.

About two weeks ago, my Facebook news feed exploded with people sharing a video titled "Kony 2012." For those who have not seen the video or have not been swept into the whirlwind of discussion it has generated, it focuses on Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, a Ugandan guerilla group. Brought to attention is Kony's use of children as soldiers and sex slaves among his many crimes.

The viral spread of the video is not surprising. It has been referred to by some as "emotional porn," and is unusually adept at pulling just the right heartstrings. What has been surprising to me is that many reposting the video have never heard of child soldiers before. Children have, unfortunately, been involved in military campaigns throughout history; the LRA in particular has been active for more than two decades. I wrongly assumed that child soldiers and conflicts involving them were common knowledge.

To be fair, though, child soldiers haven't been featured very frequently by any major news networks before the Kony 2012 movement. On the other hand, this lack of knowledge extends to other world events. While everyone on campus knows who's playing at this year's spring concert, how many know about the epidemic of teen suicides in Russia or North Korea's intent to launch a satellite in April?

I can be overly critical when it comes to the current events bubble because the thought of young people being genuinely disinterested in the world outside of their own personal borders depresses me (though I'm no news guru myself). While I have encountered kids who are unable to name the U.S.'s vice president (don't feel too bad, Joe, they remember eventually), I've also met numerous students who are interested and engaged with what's going on in our world. These are the kids who excite me, inspire me and oftentimes inform me of issues I'm unaware of.

To anyone who made it through the whole post, (probably because I made you read it): click around the rest of the site, share a story with a friend, burst that bubble!