The Privilege Of Paying Attention

News can sometimes be uncomfortable and painful, but paying attention to so-called faraway places is important because only then can we have a peaceful, knowledgeable and cooperative world.

October 25, 2023 00:42 EDT
Dear FO° Reader,

There is an interesting trend on social media to “tune out for your mental health.” We are encouraged to look away when the news becomes too heavy or burdensome. We are told to share something unrelated and positive, not to spread “negativity.” 

Credit: Serhii Yurkiv /

Of course, there are always instances where social media breaks are necessary. But we neither can nor should ignore the world for long. It is a vital task to learn how to read, hear and see uncomfortable news to become an informed citizen and remember that we are all connected. Global news is not just negative; it is also reality.

A global issue or conflict is not happening in an imaginary, far-off place. It is happening on Earth, to our fellow human beings. People from my country, the United States, have a bad tendency to dismiss global events as “not an American issue.” But we, just as much as anyone else, have a responsibility to understand and to respond to the world.

Nothing happens in a vacuum. Global events are domestic issues. If we pay attention to history, we learn that many international conflicts are interconnected with our own. The world will affect us whether we like it or not, and history does not start when we begin to pay attention or stop when we don’t. 

Credit: ritthikrai.w /

It is a privilege that I can consume the news from the safety of my own home. I have the time and space to form my opinion, develop media literacy and dialogue with others. As a human being, it is hard to witness violence of any kind, even from a distance — but if we all decide to turn away, who will remember?

How will we move forward to a more peaceful global landscape if everyone collectively decides to tune out? Human life, no matter how far away it may seem, matters. Turning away and deciding that something in another country is not our problem or is too much to witness is dehumanizing. 

We will never learn the impact of violence and conflict if we decide it’s too negative to pay attention to, and we risk letting it continue. 

The importance of a varied perspective 

My time at Fair Observer has made global issues incredibly human to me. I can hear directly from the source through various stories I have read and edited. This is vital in our current media landscape, where context, personal perspectives and dialogue are often replaced with hard- and fast-opinions and sensational news clips. 

Even when the stories are hard to read, hear or see, tuning into the news is the first step. The next step is to train ourselves to seek varied perspectives, develop media literacy and learn historical context. 

We must stop considering the reality of our global landscape as negative or a topic not to be discussed at the dinner table. We must keep paying attention to what is going on in the world if we want a more peaceful, knowledgeable and cooperative world. 

Yours sincerely,

Lane Gibson
Assistant Editor
We are an independent nonprofit organization. We do not have a paywall or ads. We believe news must be free for everyone from Detroit to Dakar. Yet servers, images, newsletters, web developers and editors cost money. So, please become a recurring donor to keep Fair Observer free, fair and independent.

Read from anywhere

This email was sent to *|EMAIL|*
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences

Support Fair Observer

We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.

For more than 10 years, Fair Observer has been free, fair and independent. No billionaire owns us, no advertisers control us. We are a reader-supported nonprofit. Unlike many other publications, we keep our content free for readers regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to pay. We have no paywalls and no ads.

In the post-truth era of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, we publish a plurality of perspectives from around the world. Anyone can publish with us, but everyone goes through a rigorous editorial process. So, you get fact-checked, well-reasoned content instead of noise.

We publish 2,500+ voices from 90+ countries. We also conduct education and training programs on subjects ranging from digital media and journalism to writing and critical thinking. This doesn’t come cheap. Servers, editors, trainers and web developers cost money.
Please consider supporting us on a regular basis as a recurring donor or a sustaining member.

Will you support FO’s journalism?

We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.

Donation Cycle

Donation Amount

The IRS recognizes Fair Observer as a section 501(c)(3) registered public charity (EIN: 46-4070943), enabling you to claim a tax deduction.

Make Sense of the World

Unique Insights from 2,500+ Contributors in 90+ Countries

Support Fair Observer

Support Fair Observer by becoming a sustaining member

Become a Member