My friends know me as someone who likes to stay informed. Someone who likes to stay on top of the news of the world. I love media, from social to visual to auditory. Learning and understanding is one of the greatest gifts humankind has been given. It allows us to expand ourselves beyond our small feet on the ground. It allows us to stick our heads into the clouds and see the world, the whole world.
And, in modern times, it has become harder and harder to find air that is completely pure.
Every part of our understanding is based on the understanding of someone else. When it comes to staying informed, it’s nearly impossible to not be influenced by the people giving you that information. In a world polluted by Fox News and CNN and biases flying like paper airplanes, where were teenagers supposed to get our information without being pulled in one direction or the other? I come from a generation of interconnectivity, an age where we were taught to question what we are told, to find answers for ourselves. But no apparent place that gave news gave it straight; everything had lean. What were we to do?
We turned to Jon Stewart. A comedian by trade, who sat behind a desk every night way past our bedtimes, who gave us the news the way he saw it. “The Daily Show” was funny. It was charming. It was interesting. And more than any of that, it felt honest about what it was doing. When Jon Stewart started on the program in 1999, it was simply a parody of a news show. Over time, it involved into a goliath beyond parody; it WAS the news, with no holding back. Yes, it had bias; Stewart is a known liberal who pushes for Democratic ideas. But whereas other programs would tip-toe around their own lines, not wanting to rustle allies, Stewart had no issues skewering Democrats the same way he would Republicans. The show felt honest about what it was doing. It was presenting the world in humor, but it was also presenting the world for what it was. This ridiculous, screwed-up world we live in is fodder for jokes. So why not have a little fun while learning?
We ate it up. Young people became informed, laughing the whole way. And little did we know that we were being taught one of the most important skills we could ever know: how to stand up for what you believe, and not what you’re told to believe. Jon Stewart gave us a voice of how to handle disagreeing with someone. How to not hate your opponents but to question, and learn and understand. To laugh when it was ridiculous and cry when it was all too hard. To not be afraid of your own convictions.
Jon Stewart takes the desk one final time tonight, and, with him, the world loses the most honest newsman we’ve ever had. So thank you, Mr. Stewart, for everything you taught us about the world and how to hold true to ourselves. Thank you for the years of entertainment you brought to us. And from the bottom of my heart, thank you for allowing a generation of kids to love being informed. Enjoy your future “Moments of Zen.”