Irony & Protest
One of the most striking things about the Millenial Generation is their complex relationship was irony. This can best be seen in the popularity of David Foster Wallace amongst their bookish types. While much of DFW’s work was written in a self-consciously detached voice that comes off as downright smarmy, one of the many subjects of Infinite Jest was the struggle to rediscover genuineness and earnestness. Having entered into the value-free moral wasteland of postmodernism, the youth of that book struggle to find something while lacking the vocabulary to even express what it is that they are looking for.
Building an effective left-wing protest movement in America in 2011 will require cutting through all of that. Millenials have been taught not to be joiners, which is the essence of getting out on the streets to try and exert political pressure. Joining isn’t just integral to that, it’s integral to the very idea of “political pressure” – subordinating your time, your desires, and your individuality to a cause that you believe is greater than yourself. If the people on Occupy Wall Street want to change that, the layer of irony and detachment surrounding the best and the brightest will have to be brutally stripped away.
If you care…try and stop, think of people who you know don’t care, and ask them what they think. Push and prod, and try and make them consider what they really care about and why. The America of 2011 isn’t the America we were promised, and I don’t know a single damn person who thinks it is. Protestors of all stripes tend to use the bullshit phrase “try and start a conversation”, which all too often means talk with people who are already up in arms. The very least you can do is (and I mean the least) is to try and talk to some people who find it more comfortable to not think about politics.
Have an actual conversation.