OPINION: Desensitization of young adults is alarming but will lead to something better | Opinion
For lack of better words, our generation’s life has coincided with tragedy and loss every step of the way, and it has desensitized us. But we don’t wallow in pity for it; we normalize it.
The world spinning out of control around us is all we have known. Our reality is about dealing with what is happening in the world, while not letting it affect us too much so that we can still function and do the things we are meant to do. This balance, though precarious, is not going to help those who hold roles of power in our government as they think it will.
Frankly, our lives are like some sort of messed up social experiment of “How much can these people under 30 handle?” There is a feeling that by not solving current problems, like the pandemic, but rather by prolonging it, we will end up bringing more support to the current political order. We are told that things are as they are, and that will not change anything.
I make the point that Gen Z have been fighting since day one, and we are well beyond our years to understand the messy political arena that lies ahead. With our education and experience of the last 20 years in American history, I argue that we are most qualified to create an improved political order that does not simply focus on economic gain.
The majority – if not all – of our college experiences have been under the umbrella of COVID-19 restrictions. We are told to protect each other while sitting in a room of 60 other students. Juggling the pressures of college is already a feat, but simultaneously participating in a society that doesn’t value our well-being as much as making money is extremely demoralizing. As a political scientist, it is truly disconcerting to see our government’s general disinterest in the health of its citizens, especially the younger generations on whom they will soon depend.
While it is not impossible to socialize in these conditions, it is difficult to create lasting impressions or friendships with people in the same way and at the same level as before the start of the pandemic. The life lived by the last generation – where your friends from college are your friends for life and you create memories for a lifetime – is no longer our reality. With the incredibly necessary use of masks, there is a lack of interconnection after every interaction with our classmates as well as our teachers. Ultimately, the pandemic and government inaction robbed us of whatever kind of youth we had left.
We’re not supposed to deal with so many horrible things at once, especially considering how we have lost well over 20,000 North Carolinas to COVID-19 over the past two years, and it’s not stopping. We are expected to move through life, to perform at our best, to look to our future, to be competitive and to act as if everything is fine.
Our future seems to be in flux. We don’t know what the aftermath of this pandemic will bring, how many loved ones we will lose and we are told that is normal. We’re supposed to keep getting good grades, apply, get decent jobs, and just move on.
Our generation has been desensitized to so many things while simultaneously defending and fighting for our rights and livelihoods. NC State has made it possible to become more connected with ourselves, with our communities, and with our world through social media and activism like never before. I have truly come to appreciate the outspokenness and care that the administration of the State of North Carolina took during this time. However, no support from our educational institution will solve the problem in question.
The education with which the NC State has armed us and the vast experiences we have had make us wiser far beyond our years. When we are able to represent ourselves and occupy positions of power, the politics and bureaucratic nonsense of the 20th century will disappear as our generation enters the scene.