Our view: Enough name-calling already

We are too liberal, too conservative, too selfish, too lazy, too stressed, too childish, too mature and too apathetic.

We’re the generation everyone wants to define and no one can. So here’s a suggestion: We are too overwhelmed.

One look at Kent State students proves without a doubt that we are anything but apathetic. We want to save the whales, the environment, Darfur and Jacob’s Field. We’re capitalists, communists and anarchists. We’re tree huggers, filmmakers and scientists.

We’re active proponents of the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, freedom from religion and freedom for religion. We want to break world records, boycott the Olympics and end racism.

At least, that’s what our Facebook groups say.

We are the first generation to have grown up with the Internet and only the oldest of us can remember a time before AIM screennames, personal Web pages and chat rooms. We have always had everything we ever wanted to know available to us, and we have always been told that no dream is beyond our reach.

Ironically enough, it is the same technology that has allowed us to be the most educated generation yet that has done us an unfortunate disservice.

Where generations before us had to look at the limited information available and choose a movement or issue to support, we have the opposite problem. We are faced with so much information and so many movements, we don’t know how to choose.

The issues are more complex now because for every Web site or group that says one thing, there are five more that disagree. Often, without intensive background research, it is impossible to tell who is right.

So we freeze and do nothing, opting instead to join the largest Facebook group we can find that seems related. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to pick a few issues, research them and then choose a way to take action. At some point, we need to realize that Facebook activism doesn’t accomplish much, regardless of good intentions.

But there are other factors at play here.

We’ve been told, since we were children, that every spare minute should be filled with an activity, be it a job, scouting, athletics, community service, church groups or academics. And that’s aside from classes. At school, we were constantly pressured to take AP classes, maintain a high GPA and pursue post-secondary classes. How many of us brought home excellent report cards, only to hear, “Well, a B is okay, but can’t you do better?”

By the time we reached college, this had become our mantra, and it took a while to adapt to the idea that a C was not an embarrassment and employers didn’t really care about our GPAs. Still some took it all on, joining every possible group, working and getting straight A’s. If we can do anything, then why shouldn’t we?

Others checked out, preferring to postpone the harried, stressful life until “adulthood,” when the inevitable careers and children will take over our lives. We sit back and take it slow, watching everyone else pull their hair out trying to do everything.

And still the media wonder why we are afflicted by such apathy. Why are college students not protesting the war? How can they sit around drinking and playing video games when there are movements to join?

Here’s the answer: We’re overwhelmed, and it paralyzes us.

So please, stop calling us apathetic.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.