OPINION: Generation Apathy? Who’s to Blame?

One of my friends divulged to me recently, “I don’t feel strongly about anything.” She was talking about politics, morality, social justice, and so on. She has been satisfied in her life being indifferent to many different social issues.

Many people assert that our generation is the apathy generation. As a whole, adults say, we don’t care about anything.

To a certain extent, this is true. I’ve seen it around me. I’ve seen college students indifferent to the consequences of partying, indifferent to the recent government takeover of a Michigan city, indifferent about grades, indifferent about moral decisions.

But I’ve also seen the passion that is possible. I’ve been in heated debates about gun control, gay marriage, women as priests, the ethics of genetic engineering and more, all with fellow Central Michigan University students. I’ve seen students dedicate themselves to causes, whether they are child hunger, animal rights, days without shoes, transgender peoples’ equality, collective bargaining and more. I’ve seen the astronomical time and effort some students put into their causes.

So there are both sides of the apathy spectrum existing at CMU, and many who are somewhere in-between. However, I see these students who are very dedicated to their causes struggling to get other student’s attention. I would guess that many of students at CMU are apathetic.

Although an amount of blame resides with students who choose to ignore problems in the world because they can, blame also resides in the way the institutions of our society are structured.  The media becomes more frenzied and trivial by the day. News sources that deliver “real news” are seen as boring because they can’t compete with the entertainment offered by the sensationalized mainstream media. At the same time this is contributing to apathy, could it also be said that the media is only catering to our interests?

Additionally, government and political change is excruciatingly slow, and even if students become dedicated to change, the slowness of this process can discourage even the most dedicated activist.

Also, it seems in the world of politics that “big money” and complicated processes control what happens. It’s easy for a college student to be swept away in the “bigness” of it all, to feel insignificant amidst the loud cries of lobbyists and corporate interests.

Even as I write this, apathy seems inevitable. Corporations, the media, lobbyists and adults are easy to blame for apathy. It’s easy to pass off the responsibility, to continue to be indifferent. Ignorance, indifference, apathy and impassivity are easy because inactivity is in their definition. By placing the blame elsewhere, we as youth are denying responsibility for something in which we share blame.

So what can we do? Problems plague our world, and the huge size of these problems can be daunting. There is only one thing we can do. For the sake of our generation, a generation that will soon be in charge of the world, we must pay attention, care about what’s happening and reject apathy.

Even though the indifference of those around us may pull us in, it’s important to remember that enthusiasm can also pull others in.