There are thousands of keyboard warriors out there who believe they can solve society's ills with an impassioned Facebook status, clever hastagged tweets or inspirational Instagram posts. We all have that one friend who clogs our timelines with their own personal manifestos and detailed critiques of modern culture.
But does any of it actually matter?
In today's world, young adults (myself included) are more inclined to join a growing fad that talks about important issues but doesn't actually address them. Suffice it to say, the two are not the same thing. Sure, it's heartwarming to watch people from all over the world band together with French flag Facebook profile pictures; and it's nice to note demands for change, as with #OscarsSoWhite. But when in the 21st century did we confuse online expression for real world effort at problem solving?
For that matter, when was the last time you read a worthwhile rant? As sociologist Jonathan Cohn puts it, "No matter how technologically advanced your social media channels are, without human involvement, progress is not possible."
Popular crusades – #Kony2012, Occupy Wall Street (OWS), #BoycottStarWarsVII – pop up every day, only to be forgotten when the next trending topic emerges (which selfie should I choose for #ThrowbackThursday?). Ask yourself if you even know the effectiveness or the outcome of #FreeOurGirls. Spreading awareness is beneficial, and social media allows important messages to take root and grow, but Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and the like should be looked at merely as a first step in a much longer and far more difficult process.
Our parents actually marched in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s with Martin Luther King. They fought for equality with literal blood, sweat and tears. They called for governmental reform and executive oversight following the Watergate scandal of the 1970s. Support from the Baby Boomer generation made Apollo 11 possible and environmental awareness take hold.
What have we done besides whipping up hashtags before sharing the latest Drake meme?
Yes, social media can be put to good use: disaster relief, fund raising, mass organization, news updates, communication, entertainment, etc. But our equivalent of a "movement" is merely sound and fury signifying nothing. We shout our opinions or echo those of others (often claiming them as our own) from virtual rooftops, but we never actually lift a finger beyond keyboard strokes. It's digital complacency.
The Internet connects people from all over the world and distributes information so far and wide that it would make Gutenberg's head spin. But it is up to us to identify which social movements are worthwhile. Is there really a good reason why the Exploding Kittens card game is the fifth-most funded Kickstarter campaign of all time? Come on now, Generation Text, we're better than that.
Instead of joining a Facebook feud or a Twitter trend just to be heard, maybe we all should put our time, money and energy into actually addressing problems. Complaining about it online doesn't count in and of itself.
But if I'm wrong, I'm sure you'll all let me know about it online.