The United States of Myopia

Center_of_the_universe_tshirt-p235665977396062327q3vu_400With the rare exception when a deranged foreign dictator threatens our national security, we Americans remain perfectly content to fixate on news events within our borders.

Case in point: After a positive deluge of frenzied coverage in the days, and now weeks, following the tragedies in Boston, our press glossed over an earthquake in China that claimed 15 victims, a building collapse in Bangladesh that killed 87 and a Moscow psychiatric hospital fire that snuffed out 38 lives.

Could you imagine if the hospital fire had occurred in one of our major cities? Twitter vigilantes would be posting one speculative comment after another speculating not only on who set the blaze, but also falsely accusing anyone, and everyone, captured on the building’s security cameras of being terrorists. Forced to rush to judgment, our cable and mainstream broadcasters would assign armies of reporters to the beleaguered hospital grounds and repeatedly ask the same bystanders the very same question, “What did you see and, more importantly, how did you feel when you heard 38 people had died?”

American’s obsession with America is unhealthy. It limits our understanding of the increasingly interconnected global economy. More importantly, it puts our Millennials, and their younger peers, at an increasing competitive disadvantage. The less they know about global events, the less prepared they’ll be to compete in the future.

So, while our media fixates about Justin Bieber’s latest meltdown, other, more responsible sources such as the BBC World News will provide viewers with continent-by-continent updates on developments that really matter.

America is doing many, many things wrong at the moment. And, while the epicenter of inertia may be the Beltway, make no mistake that our increasingly parochial news coverage is providing a very real disservice to our nation’s young people. When the time comes for them to compete with their peers in China, India, Russia, Brazil and elsewhere, they’ll know next to nothing about the rest of the world. But, they will be able to cite chapter, and verse, about Lindsay Lohan’s latest transgression. That knowledge (in combination with a complete lack of global perspective) will ensure a long, and rewarding, career behind the counter of the nearest McDonald’s Restaurant.

4 thoughts on “The United States of Myopia

  1. Great post. When I lived in the US, the one thing I found pretty amazing was the number of people I had met who had never left the States. Perhaps more people should take a gap year – if not, between high school and college, then at some point in the early stages of their careers/adult life. In the UK, almost everyone I know has taken off some stretch of time to travel, volunteer and work abroad. It’s a great way to see and experience other ways of life/cultures. Outside of travel, there’s another obvious thing you can do (I’m borrowing from our tagline, sorry): Read. Be curious. Repeat.

  2. Would that the rebels in Sudan were threatening market leader, Coca-Cola instead, Matt. Then, we’d really see some saber rattling on our end. Talk about national security! Once Coke’s secret formula falls into enemy hands, can doomsday be far behind?

  3. Thought I would jump into this conversation and provide just one millenial’s point-of-view.

    In an attempt to play the role of devil’s advocate, I came across some research that helps to further put this conversation into a global perspective.

    Based on 2012 rankings, America rank’s 5th next to Australia, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand (ascending). Check the 2012 World Giving Index through this link here:

    In my mind, we are a generous nation (historically and now). But you’re right, it becomes overshadowed by by all the bad things, hiccups along the way, and not to mention as you continually touch on in your blog posts — an unhealthy and vicious media cycle that pervades everyday life and is accelerated by social media (ha-ha-ha). That is nervous laughter by the way.

    Because it is serious.

    And as a young millenial, I’m thankful I only have myself to take car of (i.e. I couldn’t imagine bringing kids into this world and having a family at this point in my life). I have a little bit more time on my own to figure things out. 6.5 billion and counting

    Just another mouth to feed — I’d rather feed a mouth in Sudan.