We are a lazy generation — or so, at least, have we been dubbed over and over again. We are “millennials”, born and raised to create an era of the entitled, the selfish and the apathetic.
Yet, before one even finishes reading the words above, an inexplicably pervasive feeling of defiance has already introduced itself to the air. Contempt for my opinion emanates from skimming the blocky letters of this plain black-and-white text, accompanied by a slight pursing of the lips, an immediate narrowing of the eyes and an almost imperceptible upturning of the chin in disapproval.
The millennials are unhappy with being called lazy.
It’s true what they say about us millennials — the good and the bad. We’re quick to speak and know what to say, never hesitating to question anything and everything. We’re innovative, discarding old traditions in the chatter of creating newer, more innovative ones. We’re bright — and everyone knows it. No one would doubt that we know what we’re talking about.
But the problem with all this talk is just that: it’s nothing but talk. Our actions abate, as we shift from speaking out loud to speaking through a digital medium. As our mouths decrease their incessant contraction and expansion, and our fingers intensify in composing a melody of the keyboard’s subtle ticks, we grow increasingly more content with merely sitting on our laptops and letting the actual world pass before our eyes.
Our longing eyes can be satiated with the sight of the universe experienced through a montage of images on Tumblr; our desperation for social justice can be placated through the sharing on Facebook of another writer’s passionate article. Subdued by social media, we have grown complacent, feeling like we’re doing everything when, in reality, we’re not really doing anything at all.
I miss the activism that UC Berkeley once encapsulated. Here, in the most liberal of places, we are still lucky enough to have protests on Sproul and to see posters strewn across campus denouncing and advocating the most opposite of views all at once. We are still in a place that thrives with action, with movement — with something more than a Facebook post.
Yet, more and more often these days, people will settle on merely liking an article to show their personal beliefs. They are afraid to voice their opinions in real life, to learn how to argue for something they feel strongly about and to teach others how to feel strongly about it in return. With this lack of human contact, our opinions make so much less of an impact than they would if thoughtfully and passionately expressed to another human being. And, although often overlooked, it must be noted that these instances of deep, personal interaction are what truly change a person’s mind. In treating people as more than simple profiles on a web scheme, we tug on their innermost heartstrings, appealing to a side of them that is often deprived of attention in today’s day and age.
Fighting for social justice is not commenting on an Upworthy article about feminism — nor is it liking an informatic post of the Ukrainian conflict. That’s just one part of it. We are more than what we present ourselves to be on social media, and we can’t forget that.
If we are truly millennials, we will want nothing more than to prove everyone wrong. And, quite frankly, I do. Our voices deserve to be heard on platforms unregulated by admins and technicians. What we have to say deserves to be said in the deep timbre of our own voices, with a hint of a smile playing on our lips and a sparkle of passion in our eyes.
We’re millennials, aren’t we? We know how to talk. But maybe — just maybe — it’s about time we addressed the claims made about us, stanch our complacency and make ourselves heard, turning our words into actions once and for all.
Eda Yu writes the Tuesday blog on the day-to-day life effects of technology. You can contact her at [email protected].