Tag Archives: 2010s

To my generation (and others in the US): stop assuming the worst about people with different beliefs. Just stop.

8 Nov

For the past two months I’ve been working through my first semester at college. I go to American University (AU) in Washington DC. So far, college has been a great experience that’s taught me a lot of things. I’ve had great experiences that have been very educational. I’ve met many people from places all over the US and the rest of the world. I’ve taken very interesting courses, and I’ve had a lot of interesting discussions. Interesting, in both good and bad ways.

Let’s start with some background: AU is one of the most politically active colleges in the nation. Generally, the college leans left-wing. My generation is seen as very liberal compared to previous American generations, but AU takes millennial style liberalism to a real extreme. Among the left-wing at AU, there is a vocal number of students who get called “SJWs” by other students.

The term “SJW” is not just used at AU, it is an abbreviation of “social justice warrior” that has become a mocking term for vocally left wing individuals. Many who get ridiculed with this insult are well-intentioned, well-meaning people who want to make the world a better place. But like in many demographics, there is a minority that has hurt the overall reputation.

I have personally heard of the more extreme “SJWs” say that it’s imperialistic and racist for white people to learn Spanish and eat Asian food. I think most people would agree that it’s nonsense. I think it is reasonable for people to call out the disrespectful behavior of dressing in a Native American costume for halloween. But it’s become a belief that many who criticize “cultural appropriation” are simply nasty people who are out to stop white hipsters from eating Asian food, traveling to non-western countries, or learning foreign languages. And then there are SJWs who assume that “fake white allies” are not really well intentioned, simply if they make one comment that they don’t realize is offensive.

This boils down to what I believe is a major problem in American political culture: people on both sides of many debates are quick to assume the worst in the other side. There are horrible, bigoted republicans and democrats out there. And there are those who aren’t overtly racist, but who will openly deny that white privilege exists. And there are those who know it exists, but see no problem with it. All of these types of people are wrong. There are also “SJW” types who insult white people. There are “SJW” types who think it is impossible to be a male feminist. And both of these types have dialogue are damaging. But if someone comes across as remotely resembling one of these, even through one “microaggression” people tend to jump to conclusions about who they are as a human being, and may assume that are a hateful person.

I used to think of this as being a solely tea party problem, involving the types who hate Obama more than they love America. And it’s a very big problem I have with some conservatives, that they will assume the worst in anyone who supports Obama. But if we, the left, assume that anyone who questions the Tumblr-influenced culture of political correctness is a hateful bigot, we are no better than they are. WE’VE ALL got to cut each other some slack, be polite and CHILL OUT. Society cannot function in a civil manner if we constantly call each other bigots or call each other “America haters”.

I’m a left-wing person. I think Donald Trump’s popularity among the GOP is a sickening manifestation of the worst of American culture. But I’m not going to assume that someone is a nasty, awful person simply because they say one thing that empathizes with any of his views. We’ve all got to be decent human beings, and get to know people before we judge if they are bad people or not.

10s kids, part 1: Predictions for the younger generation in America’s future

3 Oct

So this isn’t strictly travel related. But I like to ponder this sort of thing. I wonder, in 30 years, what my generation will talk about when it comes to “back then”. So, in a series of three posts, I’m going to give my thoughts on what I think will be remembered as unique to my coming-of-age decade, and why people will miss each of these things. In this first post, I’m going to roll the dice and make some predictions as to what will happen in the future. Here are several trends that i think will occur in the next 20 years. As always, predictions are difficult, and there will be a good chance I will be completely wrong.

Ethnic enclaves won’t be as common in US cities, and new immigrants will assimilate

There are signs that this is occurring. Immigrants, especially ones from Asia, are moving to suburbs more than ever. Rent is becoming higher and higher in city centers, and many suburbs have great public schools. I think that this trend will continue, as immigrants, as a whole, tend to be financially successful and entrepreneurial (despite what Donald Trump wants you to think). The ethnic enclaves of New York City and other dense areas that have formed over the past 30 years will still exist. But it will largely be a tourist novelty, as more and more gentrification occurs in the inner cities.

Young people will live in smaller spaces, but many won’t mind as long as they have their digital technology

The rents in America have skyrocketed for the past 10 years, so more and more of young Americans’ income is being spent on rent. At the same time, many young people are content with less possessions. With an iphone, one has access to a lot more information than people in the past. The once classically American dream of “2 cars and a green lawn” will become “2 digital devices and a downtown condo”.

Access to experiences will become more valued than personal possessions

The experiences of youth are everywhere on social media. Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat feature a cocktail of photos, stories, selfies, and albums that capture the youth experience. I think this trend will continue, because there will be less disposable income for items, and so people would rather focus on experiences. One thing I believe is a common misconception is that people post about experiences to brag. As a young person, I believe it’s not about that at all. It’s about distinguishing oneself in a way that doesn’t involve material possessions.

Young people will rediscover the great outdoors

Right now, national parks are visited by mainly older white people. But I think that will change.  It’s less easy to predict, but I do believe it will happen in the next 30 years or so. I think that, as young people are strapped for money which would be spent at hotels, camping and the great outdoors will become a more affordable and viable vacation option in many parts of the US. I also think that people will want an occasional escape from technology.

There will be a backlash against the current system of capitalism, but social democracy won’t come to America anytime soon

Bernie Sanders’ crowds have shown that people aren’t into the current system. I think that in the next few decades, the left will make some major victories in rolling back the neoliberal corporate capitalism that has taken over in the past 30 years. That being said, I don’t think we’ll see a return to 1950s level taxes and unions anytime soon. For one thing, technology will mean that many low wage workers’ jobs will be replaced. There is also a growing libertarian streak in “progressive” youth. Many millennials support Bernie Sanders, but his crowds still are dwarfed by the number of people at sports games. Old fashioned left-wing labor culture won’t make a comeback. Instead, there will be unions for self-employed people and higher skilled workers, and a focus on retraining low-wage workers whose jobs are lost to robots.

Young white males will start a backlash against political correctness

I see it now at college. Speaking from experience, white liberals in my generation were fine when teachers didn’t want to say the word “nigger” while reading aloud a chapter of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn . But the conversation has now ventured into talk of cultural appropriation, micro-aggressions and trigger warnings. Even if the fears of an attack on of free speech aren’t valid, young white people will revolt against the political correctness culture. Some will take it too far and revert to old-fashioned racism, but many will simply say shocking things as a way to stand up for free speech. I think there will be more events like “everybody draw Muhammad day” simply to stand up for free speech. The “Social Justice Warriors” of Tumblr have become portrayed as representative of the left-wing, feminist, anti racist crowd, and the effects of this backlash will be felt by them first and foremost.

Meeting new friends and dates online will become normal, not the “weird” thing

As people spend more and more time behind screens, it won’t be long before the stigma around online dating fades. Its starting to happen with Tinder hook-ups but it will also happen with meetups arranged online. There’s evidence that more and more young adults in America are struggling to make friends in person, and inevitably, they will want easier access to human connection.

Driverless cars will be a thing

Driverless cars will become part of our everyday lives, and I think it will be much faster than many researchers think. For the first year, many people will fear riding in them, but once the fear vanishes, they will grow in popularity drastically. There will be a few note-worthy accidents that may set things back a little, but ultimately, with the lack of major investment in public transport in America, people will start to use super-affordable driverless taxi services a lot, and be less likely to own their own cars.

There will be an acceptance movement for introverts

No, it won’t be a bunch of entitled Fedora-wearing neckbeards saying “girls don’t choose the nice guys, simply because nice guys are quiet”. But I think that, as technology grows, and more and more people struggle to make connections in person, introverts become content with themselves despite having few friends. People will start campaigns at schools to teach quieter kids to be happy with who they are, and will become angry about the term “loser” still being used to refer to quiet kids in 2025. Yes, quite a few of America’s worst mass-shootings have been done by introverts, but people will eventually start a backlash against the anti-introvert stigma that has bubbled for so long.

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