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Saddened by the lack of history

April 15, 2012
By CRAIG HOWELL , Weirton Daily Times

This month, people around the world are remembering a historical disaster with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

Events have been planned all over the world, including a presentation in Weirton where one of the survivors later settled.

Unfortunately, it would appear there are some who didn't pay attention in history class.

There was a news report published recently which claimed individuals posting on the microblogging site Twitter stated they did not realize the disaster actually had happened.

Instead, the report states, these individuals truly believed it was simply a piece of movie storyline, developed as the backdrop of that motion picture. You know the one.

Now, I don't know who these individuals are, and since many of the profiles apparently were deleted, I would question some of their validity.

Just about anyone can put together a Twitter profile after all. It only takes a few minutes. For example, I have two currently in operation; one for personal things and one for work.

There also is the point that it appears the news article originated from a publication in England, and we know some of the critiques being faced by the media in that country.

If, by chance, this report is accurate, however, it definitely would make one shake their head in despair.

Think about it for a minute. There is a possibility there are people in this world who didn't believe such an incident really happened.

We have loads of technology within our fingertips and yet this kind of thing could possibly happen. Then again, let's face it, not everything we find on the Internet is real. There are people out there who post incorrect information out there just for fun. Meanwhile, there are people out there who see it and believe it to be real.

That's the danger of just taking everything at face value and not being willing to look deeper for the facts.

It seems to be a common thread among some of the younger generations these days. They can tell you what a celebrity had for lunch two days ago, but they have little to no concept of current events or history.

I know I can't possibly remember everything I was taught over the years, but I had some great teachers and was instilled with an appreciation of our history and an interest to learn about it.

I also knew well enough that the events of a movie, while potentially based on actual events, are for entertainment purposes. There are elements which need to be kept separate and I would hope these particular reports reflect an incredibly small number of people and not a general consensus of the world's youth.

I have met many very intelligent young people over the years, and I know they can tell the difference.

I don't believe it is any failure on the part of our educational system, or even necessarily the kids themselves.

Unfortunately, with all this technology we have today, there also is a sense of information overload for many of us.

We have so much coming at us throughout our days that we don't always know what to believe, or worse yet, we just stop paying attention.

At some point, we're going to simply lose our ability to retain any information over a longer period of time, and then what?

Remember, a generation learns from the generations before it. If we can't remember aspects of history, or English, or math or anything else for that matter, how will the people of the future learn any of it?

Just about everything we know we have learned from someone, either by being taught it or by observing it. We didn't just sit in a car one day and know how to drive it. We didn't pick up a pencil and know how to write our name. We had to be taught that 2 plus 2 equals 4, or that Paul Revere rode out to warn the colonists of the coming on the English army. Someone taught us all how to perform our skills, from cooking, to sports, to automotive work.

At some point, we have to figure out a way to get beyond the cloud and make certain this information is being passed on.

We can't forget the events which have shaped this world, whether it be the Titanic disaster, World War II, the rise of the Roman Empire or the Gulf War.

They need to be chronicled for posterity so future generations can access them.

Most importantly, those future generations must learn to separate fact from fiction, truth from entertainment, and reality from fantasy.

Because in the end, that is what is going to determine how this world moves forward.

It is that knowledge which will teach us the mistakes and successes of our forefathers, will lead to new discoveries and will guide us to new frontiers.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at

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