Will McMahon explains how the more that Gen Y talks, the more they actually say nothing.
The Internet is coloured with Gen Y’s white noise. Our news feeds are victims to the “outrage” that now defines the generation which interprets “freedom of speech” as “indulgence of speech.” Importantly, as a result of the constantly reinvented hysteria it creates, Gen Y stymies its ability to actively debate and critically assess important issues impacting the globe.
So, why does the material pumped out by this generation have a common stink to it?
Tim Urban, writer of internationally renowned blog Wait But Why, has labelled this overly vocal mob as GYPSYs – Gen Y Protagonists & Special Yuppies. He goes on to explain that, bolstered by the promises of our most successful surviving generation, the Baby Boomer’s, Gen Y is deluded as to its uniqueness and its potential for wonder. In short, Gen Y has unrealistic expectations and is awful at receiving feedback. Couple this mentality with a platform to connect them all (the Internet), and you begin to see why their voice is so clearly the loudest.
It is this sense of entitlement that engenders the outrage, often on somebody else’s behalf, which is the stimulus for the content they produce. Self-justified in “having a voice” and “being able to speak their mind,” the vast majority of noise is in response to some impostor stepping outside the impossibly narrow grounds of what is “acceptable.”
At Yale during Halloween, for example, university lecturer Erika Christakis sent an email encouraging students to steer clear of “culturally unaware and insensitive” costumes. For her considerate comments, a faction of students are now trying to get her ousted from her residential position. She is being attacked with hateful insults and shouted epithets. The students have justified their response by saying that the email was “disrespectful” because the university should have realised that they (the students) would have obviously been considering the issue for a while. Get a grip.
Arguably the most annoying thing about Gen Y noise is that it is reactionary. Rarely taking initiative to actively tackle an issue head on, Gen Y lies dormant, instead choosing to wait for someone else to slip up before winding up the noise machine.
And as good as it is at attacking, Gen Y truly excels at defending those hard done by. The Internet bares witness to it everyday. Accumulating positive online support, or “likes,” through defending something or someone is just so easy. Accordingly, perhaps lured by the hope of digital affection, and equally scared by a backlash, Gen Y do nothing but cry “foul play” at every chance. It’s a quick fire way to gain attention through ostensible online chivalry. This doesn’t need to be as laborious as writing an article. You can, for example, simply change your Facebook profile picture to be tinted in the colours of the French flag. I am not condemning this sort of emotional response; it is what makes us human. However, in constantly indulging in emotive responses en masse, Gen Y fails to recognise that expressing emotion over an issue will not necessarily bring about a solution to that issue. On the contrary, it clouds the path of reason. It’s white noise.
Take the instance of the drowned Syrian refugee boy, Aylan Kurdi. How the Internet wailed. The outpouring of emotion instigated by one photograph triggered a tidal wave of support for Europe to house Africa’s refugees based on a moral duty. With Gen Y as the vanguard, the world was swept up in the clamour of outrage without perhaps considering many of the necessary questions and alternate solutions to a highly complex issue. As British journalist Douglas Murray pointed out on an episode of Sam Harris’ Waking Up podcast, “The countries best equipped to deal with the migration problem were those which allowed a political discussion to go on.” It was the emotive response and consequential online furore to this issue which strangled those political discussions in many countries and led those who might oppose immigration in the name of reason to cower.
You may be surprised to learn, despite what much of the online noise would suggest, a recent BBC poll showed that the majority of people in the UK did not want to see more borders opened. Many wanted the government to take fewer refugees. Their voices were not heard. They were drowned out. In the public sphere, reason gave way to emotion…to noise.
This is perhaps the greatest consequence of the noise created by Gen Y; its self-perpetuating hysteria disables it from engaging in intelligible, distinguishable and constructive conversations about the future. In being so intoxicated with its sense of self-entitlement and its right to speak, the point is missed. For those who espouse the “how” in favour of the “why,” the only content born from this is directionless and blunted.
It is white noise.