The self-conscious sneering of my generation is surprisingly hypocritical. I got into an argument recently when an acquaintance posed the point that the #OWS protestors had nothing on starving African children, and that our squabbles were a First World Problem. Hell, this tack even came complete with one of those pithy cartoons, as seen right.
The thing is, the irony that this exchange took place on Facebook was not lost on me. As it stands, reminding ourselves that the world exists – and indeed, letting that reminder stand in for actual action – seems to be a favorite past time of folks my age. Like all things, there’s a website devoted to just that sort of ironic tut-tutting, not to mention a song by MC Frontalot, itself an ironic ‘nerdcore’ band.
(Y’know, white guys acting like Black musicians used to be called hipsters, but I suppose now that hipsterdom has grown a life of its own, ‘nerdcore’ needed to be coined, but I digress…)
But, really, who are we fooling? If we do anything at all – beyond, of course, sharing that photo (and that photo’s been shared some 400 times on Facebook at the time of this posting, with a commensurate number of people cooing at its wit) – it’s a token effort done more to assuage our consciences than to bridge the divide between the developed and developing worlds. Nobody is about to give up their wealth and live frugally, no matter how many people thousands of miles away are starving.
But more importantly, how do the problems of the developing world equate with ours? Should we simply stop fighting about inequity here until all problems abroad are solved? Yes, if I have a bachelor’s and live in the United States, then no matter my personal debt and current employment status, I have one up on most of the world. I’m fully aware of that. But that doesn’t pay my rent, nor does it stop the fact that a lot of this nation’s wealth is mostly hoovered up by a tiny minority of plutocrats.
I’m thankful I have the comfort and luxury of being able to sit here in my heated apartment and type out this post on my computer. I’m aware of my situation. I’m aware that there are people poorer than those protesting downtown, even inside this country. But how does that negate their message?