Opinion: Young and dumb

by Peter Heck · Mar 16th, 2020 2:48 pm

One of the most common cultural trends of recent years has been the over-emphasis on the wisdom, insight, and sagacity of youth. Advertising agencies market towards them, media coverage over-represents them, politicians pander to them, and social media vastly over-inflates their influence.

To make matters worse, while previous centuries celebrated and encouraged the early maturation of young minds, our current era seems to relish in prolonging childish adolescence well into what should be years of adulthood. In the 1700s, James Madison was devouring books in his father's library by the time he turned 10, fluent in various languages. In 2010, we celebrated a law that allowed 25-year-old adults to remain on their parents' insurance plans.

Yet despite this embarrassing reality, one of the most noticeable symptoms of our society's misplaced glorification of youth is the staggering lack of self-awareness they possess. For evidence, look no further than the unfolding global COVID19 pandemic.

It's fair to say that few topics have ever dominated social media the way this health crisis has over the course of the last month. As the virus has reached American shores and begun its growth curve, the wise 20-something sages we call "social media influencers" have been quick to let everyone know who is at fault.

The government didn't have enough tests, turned down help from the Chinese, aren't quarantining like South Korea did, and, we can't forget this dynamic duo of hot takes:

As obnoxious as Lincoln's refusal to consider any nuance to the issue he paints as black and white is, as odious as Edward's intentional misrepresentation of what the president actually called a "hoax" at that rally is, a greater point remains: both are speaking to audiences that are likely more responsible than any other for the continued growth and spread of the pandemic stateside.

It's an exercise is galling obliviousness to blast the government's lack of responsibility in slowing the infection curve when your own peers are doing things like this:

Some MSU students are using the switch to virtual classes as cause for inebriated celebration. The State News, MSU's student newspaper, posted photos to Twitter, showing students lining up Wednesday night in downtown East Lansing outside bars and nightclubs, some of which offered specials.

As of this weekend, the partying appeared to be going strong, causing East Lansing City Council Member Jessy Gregg to post a photo to Facebook showing a line Saturday afternoon stretching outside The Riv, a bar on M.A.C. Avenue.

Michigan State is, of course, but one example. Log onto college Twitter just for a few minutes and observe how scattered amidst the condemnations of an inept and insensitive government you'll see photos and videos of the previous night's lack of social distancing, or unbridled excitement over the upcoming Spring Break trip with "the boyz."

It's Trump's job to "flatten the curve," after all. It's their job to live irresponsibly and blame the government for any consequences.

Honestly, for those paying attention, this is all a perfect, real-time demonstration of the Bernie Sanders-ization of a young, opinionated, arrogant, and vocal, but severely inexperienced demographic that is either incapable or unwilling of engaging in critical thought.

They've been taught or conditioned to believe government must be responsible for everything – my education, my healthcare, my job, my paycheck, my housing, my rent, my mortgage, my security, my happiness. So, it's hardly a stretch for them to say and believe that government should also be responsible for stopping a virus while not expecting any lifestyle or personal sacrifices from me. Just have the billionaires pay for it or something.

I hope America gets well soon – both from COVID19, and its imprudent worship of selfish juvenility.

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