By: Matthew – Austin
I’m 21 years old. I’ve lived in Austin all my life, so as a teenager I tried to associate myself with the mentality of Linklater’s “Slacker”. That’s a very pervasive mindset I find in Austin with people my age (myself included). We are a sort of sponge for culture. We get it quickly and conveniently and then we regurgitate it in ironic little witticisms. This helps us feel like we’re on top of what’s going on, while still being able to cynically poke fun at the absurdity of it all. I suppose there’s countless explanations for why this is the general trend with our generation. We’ve sort of been raised hearing about the 60s. How people tried to change things and how they went too far in certain ways. How they distrusted the aged and celebrated the youthful. How they got old themselves and how they retained the identity they formed around being progressive by shopping at Whole Foods. We’ve been put in front of television sets as children, and those television sets had cartoon shows that were competing with each other to be the most fast-paced and convenient. We’ve kind of been taught that that is what life is all about. Not being bored. Our parents got sucked into that a lot of the time too. Then internet came out and then cell phones with internet integration, and it’s all getting more and more fast paced. So we don’t really know what it means to truly care about anything. To take a lot of time and energy working for something, and to not equate that with a waste of time and energy.
Things change, and people change, and government changes. I don’t really know what to propose as a solution to all this stuff that’s going on in the world. I don’t even truly understand it fully, to be honest. It’s sort of in my periphery. Like in a movie where world conflict is going on in the news, and the audience sees it from time to time. And the main character sees it, and you know it’s going to mean something. Because otherwise they wouldn’t show it to you.
The thing is, though, that this isn’t a movie and nothing is pre-written. But I have this tendency to think things are pre-written, and while there’s a certain historical context into which I’m born and that I live in, I am the writer of my life. And we’re all the writers of our lives, and so by extension, we’re all the writers of our society and our government. And I don’t like feeling sad or angry, and I don’t think it’s wise to dwell in those feelings for too long, but Jesus Christ. Do we really have to sit around and let the whole world fall into chaos? We want so badly to be heard, to be accepted and liked and honored. We obsess over facebook, getting everything to be so cute and precise and clever. I don’t know if this is particular to our generation, or if this is just human nature, and maybe any group of people in history would behave this way if given the opportunity. But I do know that it really is unprecedented. We have to grow up. And no one’s going to do that growing up for us. With everything so interconnected and viral, we have so much potential. But we waste it. Every second that we spend looking at our friends’ photos or referencing some campy movie from the 80s or scoffing at anything that isn’t ironic, we are digging further into our own mass grave.
The days of luxury are on their way out, and I’m kind of glad for that. As much as the state of things seems horrible and hopeless, we need this crisis. We need a wake up call. When I really start thinking about it, it makes me kind of sick. I mean we’ve got the power to change things. I’m not saying we can change the world overnight, and we certainly can’t make it perfect. But we can change our attitudes. And that’s a good place to start.
There really are babies just starving to death right now in certain parts of the world. A lot of them. And then there are the parents of those babies, who are truly disenfranchised and without any means of educating themselves. And we just sit around thinking things should change but expecting someone else to do it for us. Why is that? Is it because we’ve become so dependent on technology that we subconsciously think it’s capable of tackling moral and spiritual and societal problems?
I hate to say it, but there’s no algorithm that will save us from such a deeply ingrained and horrifyingly subtle cultural nihilism.
We’re on the cusp of a great change that we are going to see in our lifetimes, whether this change is for the betterment of humanity is up to us. But either way, it’s coming. Not even coming, it’s here. All the generations of mankind and all the generations of all the life that led to mankind laid the foundation for this. We live in a different reality and we’re going to need a new paradigm to make sense of it coherently. We don’t need to figure that our right now. We just need to take it one step at a time. The first is acknowledging that things are not exactly right with the world. There’s not really any evil entity trying to keep us down, outside of our own willingness to not believe in anything. That’s understandable when we’re not aware of that fact. But once we know that, standing up will just be natural.
Technology doesn’t have to be a vice. We LITERALLY have the entire world at our fingertips. It’s just a question of what to click on.
More photos or more freedom?