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Change the channel, change the world

A lack of motivation seems to be affecting Americans. Students tend to pick up a magazine or turn on the TV in attempts to procrastinate on doing homework or studying. They indulge themselves in information on celebrity couples, “in” hairstyles of the season and silly reality shows. Americans seem to care more about pop culture than politics and world news.

The self-centered culture  reveals itself in many ways, including numerous publications on things such as dieting and obtaining the perfect body. Americans want all the gossip on celebrities, advice on what makeup to wear and how to wear it, and knowledge on which designer jeans are appropriate to wear this season.

According to its Web site, Cosmopolitan has a circulation of 2.9 million. As of September 2008, USA Today had a daily circulation of nearly 2.3 million according to its Web site, but that’s still fewer than Cosmo’s consumers.

Current economic issues have forced people to purchase fewer materialistic items, including reading material that propagates said items, like fashion magazines and tabloids. Likewise, decreasing profits have limited companies and their manufacturing patterns. According to the Publishers Information Bureau, advertising pages in magazines declined by 17.1 percent between 2007 and 2008.

Many people, including President Barack Obama, are concerned about the economy and other misfortunes time may continue to bring. Americans need to start caring about their country as much as their president does, by informing themselves on issues and doing their part to help.

Obama voiced his faith in his country on The Late Show with David Letterman, saying: “The American people are paying attention in a way they haven’t, I think, in several decades.”

Sure, people pay attention to recessions when economic problems directly affect them and their daily routines. However, some don’t have time to stop in the halls of a college campus to listen to solemn students holding clipboards of information. Many would rather read Cosmopolitan than informative magazines or newspapers about world happenings. People pay attention when they are no longer able to purchase new clothes and are forced to analyze the differences between necessary and accessory.

Americans express their interests with their decisions of what to watch on TV as well as their reading preferences. Americans want to hear about who was nominated for the Academy Awards and who made the top 12 on American Idol. They ignore important information if it doesn’t catch their interest. American Idol and Grey’s Anatomy received ratings of 7.4 and 5, respectively. It’s clear where Americans’ priorities lie.

If Americans decided to take the time to open up a newspaper or change the channel every once and a while, ordinary people could help make the world a better place. Most Americans don’t always take advantage of the power of knowledge, but they alone have the power to choose when to stop being selfish and start being knowledgeable.

Samantha Belitch is a freshman majoring in theatre performance.