I’m almost definitely about to insult you or someone you know. But the time has come to say something responsible, and I take responsibility for saying it.
We, as a generation, like to pat ourselves on the back. We like to act as if we’ve got such a better handle on the world than the generations that came before us. And why shouldn’t we? We favor gay marriage roughly 75%-25%, the largest margin in history. We can Tweet and help add fuel to the fire of a revolution in Libya. We know what hashtags are. We have more access to information and better technology than any generation that came before us. The forces of Evil and Old don’t stand a chance, do they?
Yes, they do. Because we’re wrong. We’re lazy, we’re entitled, and we have the attention spans of children. Somewhere along the line we lost the faith. We became ironic rather than genuine.
Let me give an example. This past week, when the Supreme Court began oral arguments on Perry and Windsor, a great number of my Facebook friends changed their profile picture to that red equal sign (you know, the one that looks like a Rothko painting.) They did this to support gay marriage, in a tidal wave of solidarity. And then…the next day, a few of them changed back. And then a few more. Now I hardly see the Rothko-Equality symbol at all. But don’t worry, we all helped!
Only we didn’t. We’re a generation with the opportunity, the know-how and the energy to affect real change. But, instead, we jump on bandwagons. We act as though clicking “Like” on Facebook or retweeting something constitutes doing our part for a cause. It doesn’t. Causes aren’t meant to be fun and they aren’t meant to be fashionable—and if you think you did your part by clicking a few buttons on the Internet then I can assure you that you are part of the problem.
The worst part isn’t even the laziness, it’s the fact that now we don’t even apologize for it. We sincerely believe that a short-lived social media campaign is enough, and that we participated. Well, that is not how this works. If that is your idea of helping—if that is what you think constitutes a duty well-done—then get out of the way of the adults who take things seriously.
Here’s an idea for how we can all make this a better time and place to live. Instead of doing our duty as members of the most technoligcally advanced and ironically deficient generation in years, let’s try actually caring. Let’s recognize, as a whole, that there are real people being affected by the changing social dynamics of this country. Let’s recognize that every single thing we do and every single thing we don’t has an impact. Let’s dig deep and take some of this power and passion that we seem so fit to parade over social media and make it more than a status.
The Greatest Generation? Yeah, we can be. We have a real opportunity change the world, if we’re willing to care and to get out of our comfortable Wal-Mart desk chairs.
Photos from mylifetime.com and socialnewsdaily.com