Growing up, I used to roll my eyes and sigh whenever I heard someone complaining about the “entitlement generation.” Given recent events, it’s become apparent to me just how right they were: My generation is perhaps one of the most-spoiled and whiniest in history. I live among a generation of people who feel the need to shove political correctness down everyone’s throat and who romanticize, and obsess about oppression (real or imagined) to an almost fetishistic degree.
I’ve had it with the incessant moaning and groaning that goes on around me on an almost daily basis. For one thing, it’s embarrassing to have to associate myself with a peer group that loves to complain just about anything and everything, and do so in such a put-upon, belabored fashion. We’re always coming up with reasons for why something is unfair or oppressive, even if it’s directed at the general responsibilities and societal expectations of the modern adult.
Whether it’s the disillusioned student who views college as little more than an excuse for debauchery that somehow magically entitles them to a job or the easily-riled and overly-sensitive social justice warrior that seeks to find prejudice and discrimination in the way someone blinks at them, the first world is filled with people who complain just to hear the sound (or read the poorly-written prose) of their own voice. The pettier the argument, the louder the complaint sounds.
Social media has only served to make things worse, as it gives people a forum they can use to broadcast their supposed mistreatment. Whenever I feel the need to get really angry about something, Tumblr and Reddit are just a click away, where the chronically-oppressed somehow manage to rope sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism and the like into everything from traffic laws to the way in which the Starbucks barista stirs their grande mocha-frappe-whatever. In those cesspools of Internet stupidity, taking offense over something has practically become a hobby for some people.
All that having been said, it’s important to note that I do understand and acknowledge that there’s injustice in the world. Human beings have always had the capacity to find new and exciting ways to be cruel and abusive to those around them. I know all too well what it’s like to be ridiculed for something you have no control over, having had to deal with ADHD and bipolar disorder, both of which continue to be misunderstood and misrepresented in modern society. I’ve had to face relentless bullying and ostracism over the years, often with little support from people with the power and authority to help. I’ve come to have more than a chip on my shoulder as a result.
And yet here I am, calling out people who claim to be experiencing the same thing I have as being petty and immature. Why am I any different?
Because I don’t use my shortcomings like a crutch.
I learned at a very young age what it’s like to be held to seemingly impossible standards by those who had little faith in me. For as long as I can remember, people used to doubt I’d make it through high school because of “my condition.” Whenever I complained about how I was being treated, my cries for help fell upon deaf ears. It wasn’t until later in high school that people actually started recognizing that I could write well and had informed and intelligent opinions, and that wouldn’t have happened had I not put forth the time and effort to improving my writing skills. I didn’t just get respect; I earned it through my achievements.
That’s something that the ever-whining saps of the Internet seem to forget: in the end, the world doesn’t care about their problems. The world only cares about those who can produce results. It’s cruel and unfair, and I don’t condone it in the slightest, but that’s the truth of the matter. The only thing to come from whining about one’s problems is pity, and respect and pity are not one and the same.
There’s no such thing as a gold medal in suffering. There is no award for “most offended person on the Internet.” If you want to be taken seriously, you have to earn it, and you can do so by being productive. So write. Draw. Sing. Act. Study. Breed cats. Throw your problems and holdups to the wind, and do something productive with your life. That’s how you gain respect and admiration.
For all you know, your achievements could one day inspire someone just like you to follow in your footsteps. The best kind of rhetoric is a well-accomplished life.