dougdaily asked: how do you feel about occupy boston?
You know, a ton of people have been asking me that.
I don’t have much faith in the ability of the American people to revolt in any effective way. I think we’re pretty locked into the systems that have developed around us, and it’s going to take an enormous crisis to stir enough people to get something done.
And I think the systems account for this. We’re kept comfortable enough that we remain quiet and still. The only thing I can foresee getting everyone out of their seats will be either a [non-civil] war on our own soil (which we haven’t had since the Mexican-American war in 1848, and even that doesn’t really count), or the impending energy crisis finally coming to a head.
9/11 is the first time our comfort as occupants of #1 Country 4eva has been substantially violated in a long time. And as inspiring as the post 9/11 sense of patriotic community was (is? was.), nobody could really DO anything besides buy American flag magnets and try to Never Forget. It was a directionless and therefore impotent flare-up of patriotism.
But whatever, about Occupy Boston/Occupy Wall Street.
Am I for the cause? Definitely. Nobody who grew up in a lower middle class family is going to disagree with the observation that the rich get richer and the fucked get fuckeder. Privilege begets privilege, and it’s nearly impossible to break into that world if you weren’t born into it.
But I also think that the movement is operating in the same way that boomer-run companies operate when they first learn what viral marketing is. They ham it up. KozyShack pudding has a twitter account.
They think the only thing keeping people from tweeting about pudding is that there’s no official handle to tweet at.
There are a lot of legitimate and knowledgeable people involved in the movement, from the street interviews I’ve seen. But my experience and my interest is in the way that young Americans deal with these things.
I think that Americans, especially young Americans, especially Millenials, are desperate for causes. The reason they collectively orgasmed when they saw Across the Universe is that it depicted a generation with a sense of purpose.
Middle-class and upper-class Millennials hate that they’re comfortable. They hate that they don’t have anything huge to complain about. They watch footage from the sixties that shows the youth unified by common ideals, a common narrative, Vietnam and Woodstock and the Beatles, and they yearn for that sort of community and that sort of importance.
Life just doesn’t feel as important as it seems like it was for other generations.
And then they see footage of riots in the Middle East, of the Egyptians—some no older than they are—participating in a revolution. They think, What they’re doing is important. What are we doing?
That restlessness and longing for purpose — I’ll call it Millenial Ennui — makes them fetishize the idea of a revolution or a movement or a revolt.
So they jump at the chance to be a part of something like that.
I’ve been facebook invited to all sorts of little mini Occupy™ events, Occupy 7/11 or whatever. Come on. That’s not what it’s about. If you care, care. If you don’t care, go back to watching Parks and Rec.
If all you want is to be part of something bigger than yourself, join a team. Become a doctor. Invent something or volunteer somewhere.