Nothing but the news, not quite

Facebook may keep us informed, but it can’t be your last source for news.

by Kate McCarthy

Last Sunday morning, I reached for my phone to check Facebook. The site was flooded with status updates on the mass shooting in Orlando. After a few minutes of numbed scrolling, I pieced together an idea of what occurred, and left the site feeling dazed and horrified. 

Only then did I begin scouring news sources to get a full picture. A few hours later, I returned to see continued fervor, with my newsfeed now punctuated with updates from friends’ vacation pictures, links to videos or websites — the usual Facebook fodder. A sense of calm washed over me, as if the tragedy had passed — but that’s far from the truth.

With major news events, especially tragic ones, we post, tweet, favorite — and then move on, lending a false sense of security. By the end of the day, the high point has passed, and the news fails to remain impactful.

We are our own gatekeepers — in charge of what we allow to permeate our personal spheres, tailoring the world to our 

preferences. And luckily, we live in a time when there are ever increasing options for news.

At 19 years old, I haven’t held myself accountable for staying informed. But I can say with confidence that Facebook just can’t get the job done, as its very nature is to keep things moving. Nothing stays relevant for too long, creating an illusion of calm. 

In light of this most recent tragedy, I encourage readers to wire themselves differently and modify the reflex that takes them to Facebook before The New York Times or The Washington Post. That doesn’t have to mean getting rid of Facebook altogether, but it’s time we expand our horizons when it comes to following the news. Let’s leave news to the news outlets.