As a society, never have we been so able to share our thoughts and opinions with others. From the cavalcade of social media websites and apps that allow us to freely speak our mind with little to no immediate consequence, to a president that makes a controversial decision or speech seemingly every week that provides a topic for heated discussion.
Such a combination has allowed for us, as a country, to discuss and debate some important topics that had previously been quietly tucked away or ignored. It has also shed some light on topics that many may have not been privy to, an example of this being the DACA ruling and just how many citizens are impacted by the policy.
Unfortunately, the excess of hot topics and immediate access to platforms that allow us to share our viewpoints has resulted in these serious matters becoming more of a trend than a topic of debate.
While we enter these social media campaigns and debates with good intentions, the underlying desire to fit in, or conform, overrules any good intentions we may have. Our longing to present ourselves on social media as current and intelligent has superseded our actual dedication and involvement in movements and causes.
Topic X will dominate all the news headlines, trending topics and social media posts for a week. People will be at the throats of one another behind their keyboards or touchscreens in hopes of “winning” the debate of topic X. The fervor at which people debate will make it clear that topic X is a very important and serious topic that you need to have a stance on. According to our timelines and newsfeeds, topic X can and will change everything; our nation, our schools, our lives.
Then, the president speaks at a rally in the middle of nowhere, which causes topic Y to appear.
Topic Y could be the most important thing to happen to this nation and possibly this planet. Discussion of topic Y will consume all news headlines, trending topics and social media posts. If you do not have a well thought out stance regarding topic Y, you are already behind.
Meanwhile, fewer people are discussing topic X, as they have all moved to topic Y. Topic X goes to the back burner before eventually falling into obscurity. This cycle continues with topic Y and so on.
The problem here is that we allow ourselves to be distracted by what is new and trending. We have gotten into the routine of jumping haphazardly from issue to issue, leaving little to nothing resolved before we move onto the next social justice campaign.
“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth,” former President John Kennedy said.
“The enemy of growth,” in this case, is the abundance of topics in which we leave behind in the dust for more present matters. These issues and the people affected by these issues, are left with nothing but a week’s worth of trending hashtags to show for the worldwide attention they experienced for a short period of time.
To prove an issue truly is important, that we all need to be paying attention and have a voice, is to stick with that issue for more than a week. The Civil Rights Movement was not a flavor of the week topic that people began to talk about for the sake of conversation. It was passionately debated and worked through for years until it finally got the recognition and results that it had worked so diligently for.
While it is not inherently wrong to have a voice and opinion on every social issue that comes up, you cannot forget about preceding topics you once fought for. If you truly want to see change, find an issue and dig in. Do not let your desire for instant gratification and meaning get in the way of a greater movement. Be patient and stay focused. You will be more effective by having few, deep opinions on matters than several superficial ones.