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The question is often asked: ‘Is staying informed a right or a responsibility?’ My answer is this: staying informed is both your right and your responsibility. If you’re wondering why or how to stay informed, this post is for you. This post explains why staying informed is important and the best way to stay informed.
I realized some time ago that I was close to clueless about what was happening in the world around me.
Sure, I knew some of the major events other people were talking about, but when it came to the details or less well-known BUT IMPORTANT topics — I didn’t know a thing.
I’m not proud of that.
And if you’re reading this, you and I may be in the same (very unstable) boat.
I started my journey of staying informed with The New Paper which changed the game. But we’ll talk more about that later. First, let’s talk about what it means to stay informed in the first place.
What does it mean to stay informed?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary to be informed about something means to be educated or knowledgeable on it. So we can say that to ‘stay informed’ means to keep educating yourself on a particular topic or issue.
In this context, it means to continually obtain information about current events and issues.
So, why is staying informed important?
I think a big reason many people neglect their right and responsibility to stay informed is their failure to understand why it’s important to stay informed in the first place.
That used to be me.
Growing up, I had the idea that most news was boring and irrelevant to me. It was something adults watched, talked about, and got upset by.
I honestly didn’t see the appeal.
When I became an adult, however, I realized that there were so many different kinds of news I could watch. There was sports news, tech news, entertainment news…
I could just watch that, right?
Technically, I was still watching the news.
That’s what I believed, but that belief didn’t last very long. After some time of thinking about it myself (and through the advice of those around me), it dawned on me that that really wasn’t good enough.
While it’s all well and good to watch the kind of news that entertains us, it isn’t enough for us to choose to push aside the news that informs us — about our weather, our government, our laws, and our rights.
Entertainment news should never replace informative news.
Maybe you’re wondering why. Why isn’t the entertaining news enough? Why does it matter if you know what’s going on or not?
Here’s an example I came up with that may answer your questions:
Think of back when you were at school. (If you’re a student right now, even better.)
The news is like the announcements and notices you’d get informing you of what’s going on.
Think about if you found out that you had an assignment that would make up 50% of your grade, or an important test coming soon. You’d (hopefully) begin to study or ask the teacher for hints or even hire a tutor for extra help.
Think about if you found out that the bathroom on the second floor was down or that school would be closed for the week or even that the school dance was coming soon. You wouldn’t use that bathroom (and you’d warn your friends), you make some plans for the week school was out and you’d begin looking at some cute dresses you could wear to the dance.
If you found out that a school in your district was making it mandatory for students to wear purple hats to school, and then another school did the same, you’d begin to wonder if the same thing could happen at your school. You may decide that you don’t want to wear hats and transfer to another school with a no-hat policy.
If you found out that students who walked to campus were being robbed at gunpoint every Wednesday morning, you’d start to look at other ways of getting to school, maybe you’d take the bus, carpool with a friend, or look into getting your own car.
Let’s apply that example to real life…
Although my examples may be a tad bit extreme (and ridiculous), I hope my point is clear. These are all things that would affect you as a (hypothetical) student and therefore would be extremely important to know.
I mean, imagine if you didn’t know these things! You’d be less prepared, you’d waste time and your life may even in danger.
At your college, your workplace, and even at your very home, there are things that are absolutely necessary for you to know because they matter and affect you.
In the same way, as a citizen of the Earth, what happens on Earth matters and affects you. (Some would argue that what happens away from Earth, in space, matters and affects you too, but that discussion is for another time.)
We could also say that as a human, what happens to fellow humans matters and affects you.
Just like in the example above, without knowing what’s going on around you or to the people around you, you’d be less prepared, waste more time and your life may even be in danger.
Maybe you’re not convinced…
Maybe my school example didn’t convince you of the importance of staying informed.
I love examples, so here’s another.
Imagine your favorite store was having a huge once-in-a-lifetime sale on everything.
You’ve had a long wishlist of all the things you’ve been wanting to buy and in this sale, you’d be able to get them all — without even breaking your budget.
Except, imagine you didn’t know about it until 3 days later when it was too late…
Just think about it: if you can benefit from being informed about something as trivial as a sale on clothing or furniture or whatever, how much more would you benefit from knowing about important things?
Benefits of staying informed (on important issues)
My dad likes to say that we need the news to get an idea of the kind of world we live in.
That’s one great reason to stay informed. Here are some others:
Benefits of staying informed on public issues:
- Helps you make smart and well-informed decisions
- Allows you to engage in meaningful conversations about current events
- Helps you to form educated opinions of what’s going on
What does the Bible say about staying informed?
The Bible doesn’t speak about staying informed — at least, not directly.
As we saw earlier, staying informed means to be educated or knowledgeable on a particular topic or issue. So, while there’s no place in the Bible that speaks directly about staying informed, there’s also no place in the Bible where God encourages us to intentionally lack knowledge. In fact, He condemns it.
The Bible tells us that to lack knowledge is dangerous… it can be a cause of our destruction:
“My people are destroyed because they have no knowledge…” Hosea 4:6 (ERV)
It tells us that is is wise to seek knowledge:
“An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Proverbs 18:15 (ESV)
And it tells us that we should know even those things we consider ‘bad news’:
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.” – 2 Corinthians 1:8
So we see that the Bible does encourage us to be knowledgeable and not ignorant (you can read more about that here). And so, being informed can be even more beneficial to us as Christians. Staying informed on current events can provide an opportunity to:
- point others to the hope and love of Jesus, even in the midst of crisis
- pray for others — our leaders, fellow citizens, victims of the various injustices around the world
- look for evidence of Biblical prophecy being fulfilled
Now that you know why you should stay informed, here are some simple ways to do so.
Is there a ‘best way’ to stay informed?
In current times, the way we stay informed is through the news — a report of recent events. But it’s important to know that ‘staying informed’ isn’t limited to watching the news.
Actually, when researching how to stay informed you’ll find that there are three (3) main ways to get your news. You can stay up to date by reading, watching, or listening.
But under each of these three categories are soo many different options. For this reason, choosing the best way to stay informed is a totally personal decision.
It’s all up to you and what you like.
How to stay informed
Reading the news is one of the easiest ways to stay informed. There are newspapers and articles that are easily accessible online. However, it can be time-consuming.
If you prefer to read the news but you’re not the kind of person to pick up a newspaper and you don’t have the time to scroll through article after article — try using The New Paper!
The New Paper is a company that decided to change the way people get the news. Their mission is to ‘overcome sensationalism by making fact-first news easy to consume.‘
You’ll get a daily email or text with the news with only the main points in short and easy-to-read paragraphs.
It only takes a few minutes to read, and they don’t email you on the weekend! (Yay!)
If you’re interested in trying The New Paper, click the link for a free 7-day trial, it’s only $4.99 a month after that.
Like I said earlier, reading the news can be time-consuming for some. Others may find it terribly boring. If you prefer to get your news on the go, you can try listening to your news in the form of a podcast.
I use Castbox for podcasts, but you can try Spotify, Apple Podcasts or any other podcast provider you love.
This is the method we are all familiar with. Not everyone can sit down and watch the news, but if you like seeing new faces and places around the world, then watching the news may be a great way for you to stay up to date.
You can flip to a news station on your TV or watch news clips from a reliable new channel on YouTube.
Why some people don’t watch the news
There are people who have decided not to watch or listen or read the news. They choose not to be informed about current events and issues for various reasons. For example, some people believe that the news is:
- a source of anxiety
- or straight-up false
It’s sad that some of our news sources have really turned out to be this way. But, as we saw earlier, staying informed has benefits that every individual should have access to. It is your right and responsibility, remember?
So, if you or someone you know has chosen not to stay informed for the reasons above, try the following:
- First remind them or yourself of the benefits that staying informed has to your decisions and your life in general.
- Next, try The New Paper.
As I mentioned earlier, The New Paper presents the news in email or text format in a concise and unbiased way. It even includes an interesting or funny bit (called Brain Candy) at the end of every email or text.
The New Paper doesn’t email you on the weekend — so you get time to take a break, every single week. It’s also a great way to stay informed without social media or by watching the news.
- Finally try the following 7 tips to help you get make staying informed a habit — but with less of the downsides.
Tips for staying informed
1. Make it a habit
If you want to stay informed about the city, country, and world you live in, you can’t do it one day and forget the next three. You should make an effort to make positive and healthy behaviors habits, and staying informed is no exception.
Try dedicating some time each day to getting your news in whatever form you choose.
You can start with just a few minutes or with one article/news item a day then gradually increase that number as you think necessary.
You can also download my free weekly habit tracker to help keep you consistent! Just click here.
2. Make it stick
It’s easy — way too easy — to read or hear about a topic for the first time and then forget everything about it. Particularly when you listen or watch the news it can seem to go in through one ear and out the next.
But I’m sure there are some news articles that you may want to talk about or do more research on.
So, if you want to make a topic stick, try repeating what you learned aloud or writing the main points down in bullet form.
Remember, you don’t need to memorize the news! Just those topics that interest you.
3. Check multiple (reliable) sources
As I mentioned earlier, one problem with the news is that some sources can be biased and sensationalize some topics.
For that reason, it’s a good idea to check multiple sources to get the main facts about a particular topic.
Your sources should also be reliable and reputable — certainly not any questionable website with a bad color scheme.
4. Form your own opinions
This is related to my previous tip. The news can be sensationalized and not all sources are free from bias, so it’s important to form your own opinions.
Once you are sure of the facts, you can form an opinion on a topic — one that is in line with your values and beliefs.
Remember that your opinion must always be based on facts!
5. Limit the time you spend watching or reading the news
This is one absolutely necessary. Too much of anything isn’t good!
So, you don’t need to have the TV on the news channel the entire day (this is actually a thing for some people) or have your phone alert you whenever there’s a new story.
Instead, set aside time to get your news, and maybe once a day is best.
6. Pray, pray, pray
Don’t forget to pray. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed or anxious by the news, it’s time to turn it off and turn to prayer.
In John 14:27 Jesus promises that He will give us peace so we shouldn’t be troubled by what’s going on around us:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27 (ESV)
Remember that God always listens and He always cares. If you’re looking for more verses about what the God says about anxiety or worry, visit this page by Openbible.info.
7. Indulge in some good news too!
It’s true, sometimes the news can seem to be filled with bad news and that can affect your mental health.
So, not only do you need to limit the time you watch or read the news, but you should also make time for some good news too! Good news is the kind that makes you smile or laugh or the kind that amazes you in a positive way.
Be sure to have some positive news every day to keep you in a good mood.
Staying informed is important. As Christians, it is our right and our responsibility. By reading the tips in this post, you can learn why you need to stay informed and how you can stay up-to-date on current and important events.