I was raised by a couple of news addicts. Print journalism and broadcast journalism were the ninth and tenth members of my household, and I sometimes resented the latter. To this day, I know not to call my dad between 6:30 and 7 p.m., as he cannot bear the idea of missing a moment of the ABC evening news, which is often followed up with more news on the TV and/or the Internet.
On the average day, my detailed knowledge of what’s going on in this world is spotty. I cover-to-cover read every issue of Newsweek magazine from my mid-twenties until that was no longer an option. I follow the New York Times on Twitter and semi-regularly set aside time to read beyond its headlines, particularly the articles pertaining to lifestyle and the arts. When someone referenced Bernie Madoff, several days after the world had been told his story, my “Who’s he?” was not courteously received. On September 11, 2001, I wasn’t aware we were in the early stages of a national tragedy until the early afternoon, thanks to a phone call from my aunt.
So I haven’t exactly been a wealth of information on what’s happening in Syria. As I walked uptown more than a week ago, an older lady walked toward me, beaming. When I stopped and pulled out my earbuds to hear what I was getting accosted about, she was midway through congratulating me on my “victory in Syria.” I thanked her. “But who is Syria?” she asked, before moseying off, in a daze. I should also thank her for being the one who most recently prompted me into reading and listening to more in-depth coverage about what’s new in lands far, far away from my personal and professional bubbles.