Is it important to be aware of the latest design trends if you are in the field of graphic design?
This question is going to generate opinions, and I don't think there is a right answer. For me personally, with the knowledge that design trends will come and go (I've been around for quite a while"), I prefer to keep my designs classic, and clean. I much prefer to concentrate on originality, and making the right design decisions for my clients.
I avoid (or am suspicious of) trends that make me feel uncomfortable - call it instinct if you like - and that includes some very recent trends such as really bright colours and massive bold fonts. There is nothing wrong with bright colours per se, or large bold fonts when required, but overuse leads to desensitisation. If everyone is shouting, people will eventually just switch off.
I am wary of following trends mindlessly, because there nothing worse than a design trend that everybody uses and abuses. These can very soon become boring, ineffective, and dated. If there is something that everybody is doing, that's a good enough reason to be very careful about using it. Otherwise, my own work would never stand out from the crowd, and I'd just be another one of the sheeple.
On the other hand, there have been some useful trends, but which have themselves now become clichés in a way, through overuse/abuse. I'd include Flat Design amongst those. It was so popular it just became a bit boring. Newer versions of Flat Design which allow subtle use of gradients, shadows and textures are much less extreme, and indeed use of these was never really bad anyway, unless abused/over used.
Q: How do I keep abreast of design trends?
A: Look at other peoples' work, all the time! Don't google for "Top 10 graphic design trends for 2018" - most of these sites are just rubbish/clickbait.