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AustieZ's avatar

How is it possible for (at least here in america) so few people to have any clue whats happening in the world?

Asked by AustieZ (363points) June 12th, 2010

How is it possible for (at least here in america) so few people to have any clue about the worldwide **** occuring, excluding the ones backed by a Hollywood actor? Genocides, famines, nuclear threats, wars… and the average citizen, worse, the average high school student becoming a citizen, has no clue. We all seem to think that there is Iraq, Haiti, and the Gulf. Not that they aren’t important… but there is a lot more going down out there.

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22 Answers

ChaosCross's avatar

The American people are currently upheld as those in the superior country. Many of them think things like that are not repeated on the news won’t really change anything, and thus there is no need to learn about them.

DominicX's avatar

Excuse me for not following every news story all the time. Before you label me as some “dumb hick American”, I’ll have you know I’m a liberal know-it-all America-hating college student, so rule that one out. :P

Every now and then I will look at the news because I do like to know what is going on, but I can’t be expected to follow every story all the time. What do you want me to do about these worldwide problems? Sit there and say “man that sucks”? Because there really isn’t much I can do about it.

ipso's avatar

Are you addressing a particular statistic or fact?

I think many American’s do not share your Liberal angst. They realize it’s not their responsibility to worry about the world’s every woe, and most specifically not obligated to fix it. We catch enough flak for dicking with other people’s concerns.

Our nation is full of farmers and mechanics and truck drivers and factory workers too. And many of the upper-middle class focus more rightly on their circle of influence to get by day to day.

All that aside, I think the news media is so absolutely horrendous that people just hate the medium itself.

JLeslie's avatar

Part of the reason is we are such a big country, land mass and population. Think about it. In one news program learning about major news stories across western Europe is probably the same as learining about major news stories across America. This applies to Geography somewhat also, which Americans are accused of being very poor at.

I agree that we can be ethnocentric, and also wrapped up in our own daily problems.

The media is somewhat to blame.

I wonder how really aware people are in other countries compared to us?

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

Because media circuses like Anna Nicole Smith dying drown out everything else except Iraq or Afghanistan. News is a business. They could cover foreign **** with experienced and savvy bureau correspondents (expensive) or they could cover the latest tawdry escapes of the famous who are famous just for being famous (cheap!). That’s the supply side. Evidently, the demand side of the equation is there: Americans generally are not curious enough to turn off the “news” or switch to different sources (or are we?).

jrpowell's avatar

I know the answer to this. But I am busy. I will get back to you in 45 minutes when American Idol is over.

gemiwing's avatar

Because our news outlets are profit driven. Some things sell and some things don’t.

prescottman2008's avatar

As a whole the US is an ego-centric nation. We care so much for ourselves that we’ve shut off the rest of the world. It’s a lot like the isolationism of the 1920’s – 1930’s except then we also had no desire to stick our noses in other countries affairs militarily either. Before someone corrects me, I know we had military skirmishes in Central America, Haiti and China during that time period. It’s all about money. “Show me the money!” and I’ll show some interest. That seems to be the motto of many Americans. If you travel some, develop friendships with people around the world you begin to lose that, I think. It worked for me.

Kayak8's avatar

I lived abroad and I get what you are talking about in some ways. I agree with @prescottman2008 that travel and making friendships with others is part of what it takes. The American news media plays to the lowest common denominator with the attention span of a gnat, so it may not be the best guide to our thinking.

On the other hand, my mother is in her 70s and is also well-traveled. She bemoans the difficulty keeping up with the changing names of places and dramatic changes in governments in various locales across the globe. Obviously, we care more about the places we have been and the places where we have friends.

As for the average American high school student, they are constrained by what school boards and others require for a series of very limited tests. Elements that appear on the tests receive the focus and anything else is pretty much eviscerated from the curriculum. We can’t teach kids about sexually transmitted diseases (although teens are getting them at alarming rates), we can’t teach kids about evolution in some locales, etc. We are beating the scientific curiosity out of our kids, many districts don’t have money for textbooks that kids can take home (only a classroom set) . . . it will likely only get worse in the years to come.

marinelife's avatar

Because the giant juggernaut that is media plays down world news.

prescottman2008's avatar

@Kayak8 “the attention span of a gnat”! I love it! Maybe that’s it, The US is over-run with ADD and ADHD people!

mrentropy's avatar

I’m going to go the conspiracy route and say that our news media are owned by huge companies who probably have ties, professional or personal, with government and other large business’. They aren’t going to report on certain things, or play down some stories, in the interest of their friends.

Celebrities and “fluff” are safe enough so there’s no reason not to blow those out of proportion.

asawilliams's avatar

we dont live close enough geographically and we have so many problems of our own its hard to give time to others

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@gemiwing “If it bleeds, it leads…”

wilma's avatar

It isn’t just in America that the news media have selective reporting.
When I have visited other countries, I was alarmed at their news about the US. At times, it was very distorted and they reported many things taken out of context, just like the US media can and often does.
All they seemed to care about was Michael Jackson and slamming America.

The size of the United States makes it harder to take it all in. Many of our states are bigger than a lot of countries. There is a lot going on, how much can any one person be expected to actively get get involved in?

dpworkin's avatar

Why are we accepting your original premise as fact? The people I know are very curious and try to understand as much as they can about what is going on around them. There is a way in which some people express contempt for the “mass” of Americans in flyover land. That’s the way you miss out on a lot of Huck Finns.

ratboy's avatar

It takes time and expertise to obtain reliable information about world (or, for that matter, national) affairs. The conventional sources for news are controlled by corporate interests to whom an informed citizenry is a serious threat.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Your confidence in the people is most touching. You are, in fact, a major part of the problem. Neither political party has respect for, or trust in the average citizen in this Country, and it definitely shows.

bolwerk's avatar

American media is infotainment. News is ratings-driven, and news that proves popular gets repeated ad nauseam. But in all fairness, only ignorant and dumb people watch a lot of TV, and only the especially dumb focus on CNNFoxMSNBC for all their information.

Keep in mind, though, American ignorance relative to others is often exaggerated – not nonexistent, but exaggerated. One thing people forget is Americans are pretty culturally homogeneous and often don’t speak a language other than English, the lingua franca of world trade and academia. That leaves them unable to understand even many of their neighbors, including many French-speaking Canadians. Almost anyone in Germany, the Netherlands, or even France communicates in English for business, and easily understands the bellowing of even America’s more delightfully retarded media personalities, like Glenn Beck. What Americans don’t see are the more retarded groups in various European countries, including nationalist parties and fascists every bit as retrograde as the Republikan Party at its worst.

Another thing is Americans often come in contact with foreign peoples who self-select as the most educated, and therefore sensible, representatives of their home countries. The fans of the fascists and nationalists that make up the fringes of European political culture are probably like the Republikans in the USA – for the most part, they’re probably too ignorant to care to travel, don’t know languages besides their native one, and therefore don’t really express themselves in a manner that English-speakers would understand – so we don’t perceive their existence.

Long story short, just because our stupidities are obvious to some of us, and it’s obvious that many foreign countries lack our stupidities, don’t assume that other peoples don’t have their own stupidities that may be as bad. Italy still has an openly fascist party that is sometimes welcomed in coalitions with sitting governments, for instance. Ireland bans abortion almost entirely. Germans over-regulate free speech (okay, maybe that’s understandable…). The French get all bent out of shape and butthurt about foreign words entering their language. And look at what the Greeks and other PIIGS did.

YARNLADY's avatar

OMG I have found myself agreeing with @dpworkin Is the world going to end
What staistics show that this issue is only in the United States?

mattbrowne's avatar

I agree with @bolwerk‘s assessment. Ignorance exists in both the US and Europe. And the ignorant are less likely to travel or become engaged in the transnational online world. Ignorant people even get political power on both continents. I don’t see a lot of difference between idiots like Silvio Berlusconi, Václav Havel and Sarah Palin.

Educated Americans do have all the access to valuable information and news despite the country being so big. There are good newspapers and magazines. There’s PBS. There’s the Internet. The only small issue is the motivation to learn a foreign language, because all the educated folks elsewhere do speak English. But learning a second language does broaden the horizon. People see the world with different eyes.

ipso's avatar

Here is a unique site to give good cross-perspective on what’s leading the day throughout the world.

A friend swears by the search function, but I’m trying it now and there seems to be a problem. Maybe I have to login or something.

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