Lazy, non-contributing, entitled, shameless: all adjectives used to describe the current batch (and every batch since Aristotle) of 18-25 year olds. In light of the shelving of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the worldwide Occupy movement, I think we can safely say that the above accusations are false. “Generation Chill” isn’t as terrible as previously believed.
SOPA, since its inception was almost universally unpopular on the internet, but you wouldn’t know it due to the amount of positive press it got from media outlets like CBS and the Wall Street Journal. The tech-savvy 18-25 year olds however, typically get their news from the web. It turns out SOPA wasn’t just about stopping online piracy. Downloading a Michael Jackson song could land you five years in prison, as could uploading a cover of Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never” on YouTube.
Youth-oriented websites, such as social blogging site Tumblr and news aggregate Reddit, went offline to raise awareness of SOPA, which culminated in 7 million people signing an online petition to stop its passing. Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites had users changing their profile pictures to raise awareness for SOPA. Within 48 hours, SOPA had been shelved in the halls of congress.
The Occupy movement has been lead by scrappy college kids. I’m not arguing whether or not that’s a good thing, but any good movement needs one thing: numbers. Loud, annoying, abrasive, and attention-craving are also adjectives you might use to describe “Generation Chill,” but movements as polarizing as the Occupy movement need charismatic members to turn complaints and grievances into law.
The bickering hasn’t fallen on deaf ears. Barack Obama led his 2012 State of the Union with an address to students, a commitment to education, and the plan to form a financial crimes unit. Could all of these events have happened without the Occupy movement and an informed student populace? Probably. But just this once I think the worst traits of “Generation Chill” may have paid off.