The Internet and Modern Social Movements

December 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

Like a scattered pack of ants frantically scurrying through the thousands of paths in ant farm, the energies of the human youth have splintered and fractured since the growth of the internet. Previous generations had the benefit of seeing their movements form into integrated forms of expression. The hippie generation of the 1960’s might be the purest example of this now extinct form of generational self-expression. At no other time in American history has a generation so strongly embraced such a solidified and powerful lifestyle which stood in opposition to the traditional culture of previous generations. Everything from their views, their clothes, even their speech, was a direct and unified middle finger to the rules of their parents.

Such a movement is not possible in 2015. Rather than providing a medium for unified movements to gather support, the internet has instead become a space for isolated communities focused on specific interests and narrow goals. This isolation has in large part created a generation of people who are no longer interested in a generational “call to arms”. Even among the politically active youth, there is very little interest in venturing from the confines of whatever schools of thought they ascribe to. On the one hand, the internet has certainly helped to create a “sub-class” of young bloggers and amateur intellectuals that likely never could have existed outside the walls of academia a mere generation ago. But this growth in education (in the broader sense) comes at a price. It could easily be argued that the divisiveness among the politically active youth reflects a larger division occurring within contemporary culture at large. Simply put, people are less likely to join forces.

But divisiveness isn’t the only thing standing in the way of generational movements. The internet has created a level of self-awareness which no other generation has had the benefit (or the curse) of experiencing.  Popular social media sites like Reddit and Twitter have become hot beds for scathing critiques of popular cultural fads and interests. So called “hipsters”, a group which ironically grew as a result of this cultural self-awareness, have been the victims of some of the worst attacks. There’s a good chance that if it weren’t for the internet the hipster movement would’ve taken on a form somewhat similar to the beatnik generation. But because the internet provides a sort of cultural mirror, smartass millennials stomped out that fire long before it ever started to grow. If the hippie movement had come about after the popularization of the internet, would it have survived? Or would they have been mocked and derided for their unusual behavior?

In the end it doesn’t really matter. I’ve come to accept that a solidified generational  movement won’t happen again so long as modern technology is around. And that’ perfectly okay with me. Rather than fight against the current, my plan is to go with the flow.  I plan to build a self-sustaining home on a big chunk of land and just sort of do my own thing. And I mean that in every sense: politically, socially, fashion-wise, etc. If the internet has taught us anything it’s that we must adapt or be forgotten. So let’s embrace the individuality of the technological age. Let’s embrace the uniqueness of the human spirit. Let’s just be “us”.

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