Wow, just wow. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a news article this much in so long. Literally, while reading it, I sent to I’d say 5(?) of my friends this specific quote:
"Finally, social insecurity. In the age of social media our “sociometers”—the antennae we use to measure how other people are seeing us—are up and on high alert all the time. Am I liked? Am I affirmed? Why do I feel invisible? We see ourselves in how we think others see us. Their snarkiness turns into my self-doubt, their criticism into my shame, their obliviousness into my humiliation. Danger is ever present. “For many people, it is impossible to think without simultaneously thinking about what other people would think about what you’re thinking,” the educator Fredrik deBoer has written. “This is exhausting and deeply unsatisfying. As long as your self-conception is tied up in your perception of other people’s conception of you, you will never be free to occupy a personality with confidence; you’re always at the mercy of the next person’s dim opinion of you and your whole deal.”"
It's a quote I can (and I’d assume a lot of other BLS kids additionally) ultimately relate to at the end of the day. Anyway, I should probably answer the questions, and as of writing this, I wouldn’t be surprised if I reference that quote again.
So: distrust? Yeah, it’s high. Personally, I use Apple News and I constantly get notifications on current events, but whenever I see “Fox News,” I can’t help but laugh and think, wow, what will they talk about now? Before 2016, Fox News was somewhat more trusted and respectable. Post 2016? It has been turned into an absolute joke, from SNL, to Trump berating it constantly, to other media sources attacking it. So therefore, I consider it the best example as to how the nation became more distrusting in such a short period of time. This only scrapes the surface of distrust our generation (and millennials) is harboring towards society. Honestly, I’d love to continue the list, but I do have to talk about the other questions, so I’ll hold off on that. But the examples are staggering, and the most obvious is the whole idea of “us, the people, vs. the government.” Seriously. It’s not surprising, seeing the current condition of the nation, proof of which was plastered all over the article as well.
Because of that distrust, I wholly agree that we are declining. In some sense or another, hate or love Trump, he didn’t kill the economy pre-COVID. It still lived and did well. However, come COVID, I’d say (and a lot of people will agree) that he essentially obliterated it by not planning well enough. Again, that only scrapes the surface. That’s just the economy. Politically, as a whole, I’d like to bring up an anecdote. The 2012 presidential election between Obama and Romney. It came up on my YouTube recommended. Kind of hard to tell if that was an alternate timeline to our reality, because compared to the debate last week, I heard agreements? Cordial behavior? Unheard of! That ultimately sums up the political end. On equality? BIPOC and ACAB serve as enough proof. We aren’t declining—we’re crashing, like Brooks mentioned. Who knows if we’ll stop this decline.
Greatest nation in the world? Haven’t read the other replies yet, but I’m pretty sure one of them will have the phrase “we’re a third world country with a Gucci belt.” With the earlier mentions of American society (90s and before), we were Gucci itself. Now we’re just, again, a third world country with a Gucci belt. That’s honestly all I can say, and that’s proven with what’s aforementioned.
Before we became critical thinkers (AKA before the age of 12, the point at which we finally enter what Piaget defined as the formal operational stage of cognition, in which we begin to utilize abstract thought and become more critical towards the world around us), I’d say we were oblivious to what was starting the “age of disappointment,” with things such as the 2008 market crash, the wars in Afghanistan, etc. At the age of 12, all the way up to now (so the past 5-6 years for probably everyone who take Facing History this year), we became more aware of what was happening—school shootings, outbreaks (remember ebola?), more war, overseas and at-home terrorism, racial tensions, etc. So for those past 5 or 6 years, we’ve grown into that world of disappointment. Not everything has been completely disappointing, though. Can’t think of any right now, due to the tone in which I’m writing this response (too negative to really think of anything positive at the moment), but I’m sure there are some out there. I think. I hope. Eh. It all went downhill when Harambe died.
Still, I only partly agree with what Levin says. Our generation does indeed say that “they’re failing us,” yet we are trying to help. We’re advocating and going out to invoke change. We’re trying. We indeed are outside of the system, but we are attempting to push our way in. May not work now, but if prolonged, we’re due for change and improvement in the long run. I hope it’ll happen. We ultimately need it to happen.
And finally, of course, the last part. Have the most recent events over the past six months (the death of George Floyd, COVID, etc.) impacted what I wrote and what was mentioned in the article? Of course. I don’t think either would exist if that weren’t the case. And fear does have a lot to do with this. I remember reading an article, I think it was for my APUSH class a few months ago during the first attempt at virtual learning, in which it described how being alone has ultimately amplified people’s fears. People actually began to hallucinate, hear things, believe paranormal activity was happening in their homes. Crazy, right? And as always, fear can push us to do astonishing fears. It’s the idea of fight or flight, induced by fear or anxiety. Our nervous system, or more specifically during fight or flight, the sympathetic nervous system, pushes our adrenal glands to produce adrenaline. So: fear -> adrenaline. And that adrenaline has pushed people to go protest. Hundreds of thousands of people. Regardless of the pandemic (which most have thought a bit silly, but a lot of the protests have tried to stay safe), people went out. But it was that same pandemic that produced that fear and made us go out. Made us protest. Made our voices heard. Especially when George Floyd was killed. That fear that that could happen to other BIPOCs created that adrenaline and threw people onto the streets to protest. Hundreds of thousands of people. All for one cause. Biology and psychology are wild, but amazing.
But yeah. We’re declining, and we need to do something. We’re trying, but I don’t think we’re trying hard enough.