When I started writing this, I thought I knew why our generation was capable of such fearlessness. There were the important issues to write about, and there were crucial life altering situations such as employment, relationships,and grief. These things matter. So do our temporary jobs, temporary homes and temporary broken hearts.
These things teach us how to feel fear, how to abandon it, and how to mold it into something motivational. They teach us which walls to build, and which to demolish. We learn the ghosts from our past make us shiver more than any monster beneath the bed. I thought about the questions that plague our worst thoughts, and I thought about how we answered them. But what really makes us more fearless than our predecessors?
I could have written about the economy, or about love and loss. I could discuss our pain management skills, or how to drink tequila without throwing up. Instead I chose this.
Information. And our access to it.
We are a generation that wants to know answers, and we are not short on questions. We have the internet to thank for that and our casual and equally intimate relationship with social media. We are at ease with technological developments, and we don’t fear the digital sphere. We are the most comfortable with utilizing new technologies and platforms, and we use them to share ideas on a global scale with maximum impact.
Of course, the social media age has it’s flip sides, and it’s limits. We can’t do exactly what we want to online, because there are real life consequences (also, nobody likes a keyboard warrior). The chances of devastation are also high, when we could stumble upon the digital transgressions of a partner or the secret life of a friend or family member. Still, we don’t fear having the information. We still look for it. Too much information is better than none at all, after all.
We want answers to everything. They include our brightest aspirations, and our chaotic self-doubts. We wonder about love, about ourselves, and if we can ever be taken seriously. But we’re not as narcissistic as they think. We wonder more about the world, and the things and people in it..
We want to see other realities, and we want to hear other voices. We want alternate opinions, perception and conversation. We’re not shying away from the truth, simply because we’ve been given far too much false hope and half-truths. We want our eyes open.
We weren’t a generation defined by world wars, but we were one raised with the sharp awareness of terrorism. We came home from school one day and the world had changed, and we had our eyes opened to it’s violence with the gut wrenching live images of 9/11. As we got older and politically invested, we saw that government proved to have less influence than we anticipated, thanks to the bold truths told by online users. We then came to learn the power of the internet with WikiLeaks, and we followed it’s every development. Were we for it, or against it? It didn’t matter, because the internet provided a place for both.
At this moment, we are looking for more answers on Israel’s conflict with Gaza, and we are desperately seeking human yet logical responses. We hunt for the truth, no matter how bleak it might be.
We want to tell and share information, and we want to cultivate relationships and nurture our intelligence. We’re collaborators, builders, and thinkers. We are truth speakers emblazoned with a crest of usernames and many of our voices spark from social media scrapbooking and steady surveillance.
Neither our parents nor any moral crusader could prevent the internet from giving us answers that they couldn’t bear to say. We couldn’t be protected, and we didn’t want to be- not when Google could give us the answers we needed.
That said, we are not dependent on digital information- because we find adventure in the challenge to find it through other sources. We ask our peers, we conduct our own research and we even pick up some books now and again. Because we have this unquenched thirst for more knowledge that will answer our own questions.
There are things we know, and there are things to be afraid of. Yet, we live in spite of them. The worst thing about fear is that dark pit in the bottom of your stomach, or the moment you hold your breath when you feel a shadow lingering behind you. The exact moment you gasp for air, and let it in to breathe is when you let go of the magnitude of fear. It can’t control you, it can’t manifest itself inside you or eat at you at the core. Not when you can control it and release yourself. The more we know, the more there is to be afraid of- yet we feel safer by knowing it.
That’s the thing, we’re all control freaks. We know we don’t have all the answers, but we know we’re resourceful enough to find them eventually. Whether that means experiencing new lows and triumphing to new highs, or finding ourselves on a road of self-education- we know we can get what we need in the end. Being fearless means seeking out information, improving ourselves and creating a path with whatever tools we have on hand.
We have all had the fear. The fear from knowing too much too soon. You feel it when you board a long haul flight, or when the employment statistics plummet to new and deeper depths. But we can abandon it by moulding the information we have into something that works for us.
We could fear knowing too much, and we could fear the exposure to damaging information. Yet we don’t, because we know that knowledge is power and that we yield it.
The thing about our predecessors is this: They think they have been pulling the strings all along. First by raising us, and then by dismissing us. Yet, we know better than to relinquish our power to those who have no belief in it. We’re not victims, and we’re starting to wake up to that truth. We know that the generation that reared us keeps us weighed down with degrading stereotypes and “self-entitled” remarks. But we know we will eventually have the upper hand, because we’re using our skills and resourcefulness to investigate, learn and enlighten. We’re using them to better our resumes, our careers, and ourselves.
Eventually, we know it’s going to pay off, and we know we will no longer be coined “the lost generation.” We’re fearless because we know there’s an endgame, and we’re not afraid of the dark.