Severe drought continues to threaten North America’s West coast; sea levels in the arctic continue to rise, and changing temperatures are drastically altering ecosystems. Fossil fuel drilling destroys water supplies, increases seismic activity, and contributes to smog, haze, and greenhouse gases. We destroy our forests at an alarming rate, and our eggs may all be infected by mutant bird flu. Epidemics, outbreaks, and political conflicts are leaving developing nations in pieces. We’re drowning in student loans as big corporations rob us dry. Our politicians are dumber than ever; we fly racist flags, and Donald Trump is running for president.
Chances are you know all this; after all, millennials are far more educated than the generations before us. Most of us are well-read and well-informed; we’re a powerful group of people, but we’re also far too complacent.
Now, I’m not perfect. I’m easily distracted by Instagram and click-bait. I’m guilty of partying a little too hard, and I always sleep way later than I intend to.What I’m saying is, I’m no saint, and this piece is in no way intended to insult you in any way. Instead, I want to encourage myself and others stuck in post-grad purgatory to wake up, and take action before it’s too late. “But Viccccc,” you may be wondering, “Howwww?”
Luckily for you, I wrote this guide on how to be a [partially] grown-up person who cares about things, and isn’t afraid to say so.
Put your iPhones down and read an actual newspaper.
Phones are great, but there is a whole other world of information out there. Information that comes from multiple sources, has been fact-checked, proofread and printed not just for your enjoyment, but for your deliberation. By reading at least one paper a week, you expose yourself to different points-of-view, slants, and writing-styles that allow for intellectual debate far greater than the comment section on Jo-Shmo from middle school’s Facebook status.
Ask questions, make waves.
I once heard it said that silence is the death of democracy. My memory isn’t great, so I don’t know who said it. I could be quoting my 9th grade history teacher for all I know, but I love it because it’s true. When we accept the world for the way it is, we become complacent, boring, and frankly, dumb. Living in post-grad purgatory means that we often just smile and nod, because we’re too busy looking out for ourselves, and carving a path for our own futures. But as a rising generation entering whatever “adulthood” is, it is our job to question authority — we’ll be in charge soon, we should figure a few things out first.
Talk to strangers — most of them don’t bite.
You’re probably socially awkward. Most 20-somethings are, but deal with it, ok? I’m not saying you need to smile and wave at every passerby you see, that’s just hippie nonsense, but take a few minutes each day to look up and notice the people around you. Talk to a canvasser on a street corner; they might have something important to tell you. (And if you like what they say, then give them a dollar, it won’t kill you!) Ask that old man what he’s reading — it could be valuable to you. Ask a native for directions, they might give you tangible advice. Whatever you need to do in order to play an active role in your community, do it. That way you can at least justify your gentrification without feeling too guilty.
Russell Brand is an idiot.
Don’t listen to Russell Brand. Voting is cool, sexy and fun. Plus, your boss legally has to let you leave work in order to do it, so that’s a plus. Seriously though, too many 20-somethings love to complain about politics, but most don’t vote. Do you hate Republicans? Register to vote! Do you think Hilary Clinton is a lizard person sent to destroy us all? Then voice that opinion, and register to vote! Once again, we are one of this country’s largest demographics, with some of the loudest opinions; maybe we should start flexing that muscle. If you’re already registered, awesome. Now don’t just show up for the president; contrary to popular belief politicking doesn’t just happen once every four years. Vote in local elections, primaries, and for the next American Idol if that’s your thing. Voting is important and always makes a difference; so please for the love of whoever your God may be, don’t let any British comedians tell you otherwise.
Finally, the fist step to recovery is admitting we have a problem.
If you care about the world you live in then it is time to fess up. Post-grad punks like ourselves like to THINK that we want peace, love, hope and change, but we quickly throw in the towel once things get too complicated. Instead of tattooing peace signs on your rib cage, live a life dedicated to peace and understanding, because hypocrites kind of suck. We should be embarrassed that our parents’ generation may have been more radical than our own. Think about it, parents watch Fox and Friends, sign their text messages, and still don’t know how to send private messages on Facebook. Like I said, we should really be ashamed of ourselves. All I’m saying is, if millennials don’t put in the work now, no one else will, and that’s more depressing than the unpaid internship you’ve been working at for two years and the Greek letter jacket you wish you could still wear.