September 23, 2014

Five Things You Should Care about Even If You Don't Care

In life, there are a few uncomfortable situations that are best avoided when at all possible. For example, being publicly ostracized by a room full of angry Slovak women.

Another example is being trapped in a bout of small talk where you have absolutely no idea what your companion is talking about. That moment when you know it's your turn to speak, but have nothing to add and no diversion planned.

The best way to avoid this is obviously to avoid small talk, or places where small talk might occur, like parties, reunions, grand openings, weddings, or just situations that might involve other people in general. But as that's not always possible, your second best option is to be prepared.

Now, I know that you can't be prepared for every small talker out there. Because no matter what, you're going to eventually come across the rogue poodle fanatic for which you will always be woefully unprepared.

But that doesn't mean you can't prepare yourself for your standard cocktail party by at least having some idea about what's going on in the world.

Which is why I thought I should share with you what (I think) are the five things you should care about right now, even if you don't care.

1. ISIS. Okay, granted that this is probably not typical cocktail talk. (And if it is, you're attending some pretty intense cocktail parties.) But if you don't know about the The Islamic State (IS) a.k.a. the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) a.k.a. the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by now, start reading. They're the guys causing international alarm over in the Middle East and for good reason; anyone that comfortable with beheading is something worth worrying about.

2. Ebola. Some people (like Derrick) are lucky enough to have spent the last six months being provided with my personalized, real time updates on the virus outbreak that has infected more than 5,500 people, killing over half of them, since the outbreak started earlier this year. I'm not saying to spread panic throughout your cocktail parties, but I am saying that if the cocktail party is in West Africa... maybe call for a rain check.

3. Immigration. Immigration has been the center of attention lately because, surprise, our government disagrees on how to handle the growing number of undocumented immigrants flocking to the U.S. Obama says he's going to wait until after the November elections to make a move, but there are at least some rumors that the issue might lead to another government shutdown. Because that was so much fun last time.

4. The NFL. Not quite as pressing as international terror groups and incurable diseases, but probably more likely to show up at a cocktail party. From the ongoing scandal surrounding Ray Rice and my beloved Ravens to Adrian Peterson's child abuse charges, it's been a bad start to this NFL season. Whether you play Fantasy or not, this is something you should probably know a little about.

5. The anatomy of a perfect Bloody Mary. Just in case you're trapped making small talk with me.

Tell me: What do YOU think are the top five news stories people should be paying attention to right now?