This may come as a shock to some, but the media is not omniscient. It’s not omnipotent either, so you can forget about that. “The media,” or its more specific incarnation “mainstream media” aren’t even real things. The collective storytellers of humankind are not part of a singular distinct entity. The media, the press, the paparazzi, whatever you’ll call them are a class of people. If we’re talking at the corporate level, you’ve got ABC, CNN, CBS, FOX, TBC, NY1, Al Jazeera, the BBC, and more. And to each, tons of competing stories. But these entities aren’t ‘real’, people are. These companies are all composed of people. Where do those stories come from? People. It may be crazy to think about, but on the other side of that piece of news you just read is a person that cares about that particular issue. And just as those people wrote stories and submitted them, so can you.
During times of crisis there are those that feel indignant because ‘the media’ isn’t up in arms about whatever ‘hipster disasters’ they’re not covering because a larger or different incident is taking precedent. Well despite what these ‘crisis hipsters’ will have you believe, there is news about whatever ‘hipster disaster’ that any particular one of them is spouting off about that day. Unless the bomb was going off 10 feet from where you’re standing, how else do you learn of smaller disasters?
This is not to say that people shouldn’t care about these smaller incidents. Quite the contrary, you should care if you’re a decent person. You should care about everyone affected by every disaster. Not just the mainstream problems and not just the hipster disasters. You should care about everyone affected in every terrible event in this world. Empathy is not a zero sum game, by caring about one thing you do not have to start caring less about another. I’d say it’s actually a positive sum game. Caring about one set of people and their problems doesn’t mean you have to care any less about another set of people and their respective problems. At the end of the day, we should be more empathetic towards more people and more causes than we started the day empathizing with.
“But people still don’t care about Cause X or Person Y, or even Disaster Z!” That may be true, but people generally don’t care about anything unless they’re given a compelling reason. Why do you care about “Cause X, Person Y, and Disaster Z?” Did someone write a piece of news about this issue that compelled you to become passionate about and interested in it? Well, you have the same power. If you can write, you can influence others. You may not have a platform like CNN or BBC to broadcast your message, but you have friends, and that’s a great start. Get your friends to care, get your neighbors to care, get the people you encounter at work to care. If you care enough to create change, then you will soon enough see change if you work towards it.