Column: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Apathy


Tanya Iyer

I am sick of it.

I’m tired.

I’m fed up.

I’m fed up with the atmosphere of hate and discrimination which now seems to be invading every aspect of our lives. I’m weary of the ‘you against me’ mindset, which seems to have enveloped our nation in a perpetual state of unrest and disgust. I’ve had enough of our newfound culture, one which glorifies ardent, irrational belief in a single viewpoint.

But that does not mean I’m done.

Over the past few months, regardless of political leanings, our newsfeeds and television screens have transformed into cesspools of negativity and discord. A quick search for ‘harassment’ or ‘abuse’ often surfaces a fresh set of accusations, a reminder that our society is not the utopia we’ve built it up to be. Late night talk shows, once reserved for contrived parodies and trivial banter, are now dominated by somber discussion of our country’s political, economic, and social future. Topical, friendly conversations regarding inequality, religion, or the Federal Reserve inevitably devolve into a screaming match, both parties shutting the other’s words out.

In times like these, the natural response is to simply shut everything out.

To turn away from the media circus. To shut off your computer, your phone, your Wi-Fi. And that’s the healthy choice, too. A maelstrom of domestic political unrest can wreak nothing but havoc on your psyche.

But it’s also important to stand up when things aren’t right. While our nation’s atmosphere is far from wholesome, our current apathetic mindset doesn’t help either. As students, we’re the voice of a new generation, a generation which has the ability to shape the near and far future. We cannot accept the way things are. Our society is not perfect, and it will never be unless we discard any sense of complacency we may hold.

A sense of normalcy in today’s society is unfounded and misplaced. We cannot accept mass shootings as a fact of life, particularly when the power to make change is within our hands, regardless of personal thoughts on gun control. We cannot stand idly while our fellow citizens are hurting, assuaging our collective uneasiness with a veneer of ‘social media activism.’ We cannot rely on the notion that others will solve the world’s problems: if everyone believes so, the world will remain stagnant, perpetually on the precipice of change.

Perhaps most importantly, we must not grow weary. As young men and women, we are filled with a spirit for change seldom found among other demographics. While it is permissible, necessary even, to take some time for ourselves, the world and its future relies on our anger, on our actions, on our ability to separate wrong from right.

So go ahead. Turn off CNN. Mute notifications from the New York Times. But please – don’t be passive. Write to your representatives about policy or courses of action you’d like to see them take– they’re called representatives for a reason. Bring your traditionally apolitical friends into the discussion: in today’s day and age, apathy isn’t simply a lifestyle choice, it’s plain ignorance. Go beyond the flimsy veneer of ‘social media activism’–  find an issue you’re invested in, and devote your time, intellect, and capital to charitable organizations in that space.

Whatever you do, don’t stop separating the media circus from what truly matters. Don’t stop taking matters into your own hands. Don’t let yourself be discouraged by the omnipresent wheels of bureaucracy.

Just don’t settle for the world as it is.