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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Pseudo activism plagues millennial generation

I have recently noticed a trend concerning the content of my Facebook Newsfeed. It seems that one of the most recent videos to go viral is, ironically, a video concerning our generation’s overuse of our cellphones and social media as a whole, titled “Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?”.  

For a while, I ignored it, as I do with most posts on Facebook that do not seem important.  However, after a week or so of people posting this video everyday I gave into watching it to see what all the press was about.  What I was met with was not surprising at all.  It was another video promoting faux-activism, with self-congratulation and fancy computer effects.  The same kind of video that has been posted ever since the KONY 2012 debacle. 

To those who have not seen the video I mentioned above, here is a synopsis:  A tall handsome man describes, in basic spoken-word poetry, various, possibly made-up, scenarios describing vaguely how overuse of cellphones and social media are ruining our lives, and all the while sleek computer word-art and effects drive his point home.  However, for me, the video itself has two primary flaws. 

The first flaw is that it is representative of a recent societal backlash, or perhaps counter trend, on the use of cellphones and social media that I personally think is over-publicized.  Since the invention of the telephone, or perhaps earlier, people have been concerned that forms of communication other than meeting face-to-face will cause a negative long-term impact on humanity, such as people not being able to fall in love or make close, personal friends.  However, 140 years later people are still making close personal friends as well as engaging in serious committed relationships.  

I raise these points to ask two questions.  One, is it possible that cellphones and social media are just another wave of technology like the invention of the telephone, that has made it possible to stay in touch or at least updated about people we are no longer close to physically and/or emotionally? I believe that the answer is yes.  This answer brings me to my next question as well as the next flaw of the video: Can we please focus our energy and sentiment toward more pressing issues other than cellphone use?

In our society, when there are still institutionalized forms of racism, sexism, classism, homophobia and countless  other problems that should be sorted out, it is disheartening when my Facebook feed does not represent the need for change in these other areas of our society.  Instead, it gives off the idea that people are more concerned with spreading change about smartphone use, an issue of questionable importance, versus issues that actually matter, such as racially-charged police abuse or the gender-gap that still exists.

The part of the video I take the most issue with, however, is toward the end.  At some point, the poet congratulates the viewer for being one of the few people to stick around until the end of the video.  The reason I take issue with this is it creates the perception that by watching an aesthetically pleasing three and a half minute video, the viewer deserves some sort of congratulations, as if they have already created a change.  

This form of non-deserved merit allows viewers to believe they are people who accomplish real change in the world, activists if you will, when they simply are not.  I believe this is the real part that is damaging to our society, because not only does it diminish the respect for the actual activists in our society that create real change, but it also diverts attention from  their causes as well.

Henry is a freshman writer for The Daily Cardinal. Do you agree or disagree with his stance on technology? We want to hear from you. Please send all feedback to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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