The Everyman Psychedelic: #WeCare

Pussy Riot Trial

This whole Pussy Riot verdict seems to have everyone in such a tizzy that I can’t seem to scroll through my Facebook feed fast enough to try and avoid the deluge of social scientists that I call friends.  Everyone is suddenly an activist, all proselytizing quite loudly what a miscarriage of justice this is and how we as a human race have failed to uphold basic freedoms.  Or, conversely, how these girls got what they deserved because they willfully broke a defined law and infringed on others religious rights and sanctity.

I really couldn’t care about what happens to the girls from Pussy Riot.  I wish them the best, both as people and as activists, and I hope that in some way what they did and what they’re going through can incite some social change in Russia.  But what I think about the actions of these women and the ensuing Pussy Riot verdict is not the point here.

The funny thing to me is how deeply everyone cares about this verdict and sentencing.

Just like they did patriotism post-9/11. Just like they did OWS during the warm weather months. Just like Obamacare and tax reform.  Just like gun control.  Just like so many other things that capture our rapt attention for a few weeks before they’re completely forgotten.  My generation’s interminable pseudo-righteousness makes me very sad.

Gen F(acebook) wants a flag to wave, seemingly regardless of what that flag represents.  Something bad happened somewhere in the world – let’s post about it and let’s remind everyone how awful it is and how we should take a minute to examine what’s going on outside of our walls.  But that’s all the time we have.  Just a peek and poke.  Uncover and absorb enough information about these injustices to sound like you know what you’re talking about when discussing the intricacies of Russian civil liberties with your post-grad pals over a pitcher of Budweiser at your local dive.

It is an unfortunate byproduct of our good fortune and there is a direct correlation from the road of civic revolution our parents’ generation paved for us to the supposed activism that we feel so obliged to uphold via our social networks.  Thanks to their generation we socially have very little to complain about.  So when we find something “wrong” we take that monkey on our back and we make it our burden even though it oftentimes has nothing to do with us.  In an effort to show our Facebook friends how culturally and socially engaged we are, we voice our opinions in the form of a status update.  We merely post and move on.  And when we move on, we do so swiftly.

Where is the patriotism we showed after September 11th?  Are we not obliged to always wave our nation’s flag and to a certain extent support our American brothers and sisters all the time?  What happened to the tent city in Zuccotti Park?  Where was the undeniable resolve of its occupants once we faced the renowned brute of a New York City winter?  Some of these causes take on the buzz of a hot new band.  A lot of us aren’t sure what we’re yelling about, but goddamnit we’re yelling.  What’s unfortunate is how I’m sure that by the time this rant is published, most of us will have forgotten all about the plight of Pussy Riot.

Connectivity has apparently eroded our resolve.  We are just a click away from anyone in the world however we cannot seem to hold onto a civic or cultural idea for more than a precious few weeks as your newsfeed and your Timeline are rife with the social theorem of your college buddies.  We don’t know what it means to fight.  We don’t know what it’s like to wage our own personal wars.  We simply know how to say we support something, whereas actually supporting something we believe in is an entirely different endeavor.

This is not a bad thing.  Not having to fight is about as beautiful of a thing a human could ask for but we as a generation feel that our self-worth is endangered if we don’t have a cause.  If we lack a reason then we are a worthless generation.  We glorify the process of social change, when in reality it is a long, arduous and often ugly task that we are not willing to undergo. The central conflict here though is that the activism we seek is not a fabulous endeavor yet we as a generation don’t have the patience or the resolve to truly wage a war of ideals. I’m not saying give up and accept things as they exist.  I would never suggest that we stop evolving.  We’re not perfect.  We’re nowhere near even close to perfect.  But we have to be willing to take the time to fight the fights that would make us better and leave the road paved more smoothly for our children.

Until the next movement begins to take shape and we forget all about the girls of Pussy Riot we will continue to post, to tweet, to discuss over our lattes what’s wrong with the world and how it should be fixed.  First world problems they’re called.  But if our first world problems are simply that we have too much to discuss, this is a world we should all be happy in which to live.

Unfortunately we do have problems.  We have very real problems and those problems need to be solved.  We are living in a country that is still a million theoretical miles from marriage equality.  We are living in a country where our elected officials are using terms like “legitimate rape.”  We are living in a country where the partisan divide is greater than it has ever been.  Yet rather than stand up for our gay brothers and sisters, rather than rally against someone who thinks there are gray areas of sexual assault, rather than encourage across-the-aisle discussion and compromise for the betterment of our nation we choose to go on clicking, using our Timelines to scream “INJUSTICE!” about a group of girls on the other side of the world.  It would almost seem that we’re too scared to be righteous.  It would almost seem that our valiantness would be too time consuming.  It would almost seem that by sharing an article online and exclaiming how awful the world is, we feel as though we’ve fulfilled our civic duty.

Maybe it would suit some of us to live in a world such as Pussy Riot’s oppressive Russia.  Clearly it’s enough to cause them to make a stand for something they believe in at the risk of dire penalty.  Maybe, rather than being the perpetual cheerleader of the encumbered world, we could take the time and focus the energy to stand up for something that might make the world of our children a better place.  Or we could just keep talking.


About the Author

Michael Venutolo-MantovaniMy name is Mike V. I write about things that make me angry. Or happy. But usually angry. Because when I'm happy, I don't want to write. I want to be happy. I grew up on the Jersey Shore and I play guitar and sing in a rock and roll band called The Everymen. We fucking rule.View all posts by Michael Venutolo-Mantovani →