Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Raising Awareness About Raising Awareness

Logging on to Wikipedia, I discovered that today is National Coming Out Day. Like every other National Group Day, NCOD aims to raise awareness of the LGBT community. It's gotten to the point where I'm losing track of what "raising awareness" means and I doubt groups that use it to justify their events have a much better idea.

So I started a Wikipedia article: raising awareness. In the article I suggest some groups become more interested in raising awareness than actually doing something about it simply because the former is easy to do. In undergrad every student organization seemed to be built around this concept and did nothing more. This even extends to our local chapter of the LGBT Alliance which was located on the most liberal campuses in the country. (Those from my old stomping grounds--Beloit College--might point out there were some activities the Alliance did that were not "raising awareness." This might be true, but most of what they did involved parties and papering the campus with fliers about yet another LGBT issue.)

I think the drive to spend so much time raising awareness comes from our democratic system. If we merely "raise awareness," then our representative will change things. We don't have to take action; the how is someone else's problem. Now it's true that getting people to pay attention to something is a critical first step (a lot of economics is in this stage as most people don't know certain laws are tremendous problems). But when we pass the point, the next step is do something about it, even if that doing something is writing to a congressman or proposing a plan of action. The obsession of only pointing out all that is wrong is a tremdenous problem and people need to be made aware of it.

1 comment:

SmoothB said...

That's funny -- absolutely a good issue to raise awareness about.

However, if I might add, we say in both economics and politics that a great deal of problems stem simply from a lack of information. Politically, if people are rationally ignorant and that this is a large part of a collective action problem, then lowering the cost of information should improve the quality of voting, right?