i fail to understand political apathy

On June 8th at 22 years old, I cast my vote for the very first time. My voice abruptly shifted from that of one lost in a crowd to one bound by law, counted equally among others in my community – a deep pencilled cross marked in a printed box, an opinion that demanded to be heard.

In the polling booth I’d shut my eyes and tried to remember all it had taken to reach where I’d arrived. Thoughts lingered less on the stacks of forms completed and signatures practiced, of photobooth photographs taken with my tongue pressed firmly against the palate to strengthen a soft jawline, of trains boarded with good intentions of arriving on time to biometrics scans and interviews, and two grand missing from my pocket; but instead more so on the seventeen years preceding that moment I had spent feeling powerless. As an American citizen raised in the United Kingdom, I had never experienced the privilege of democracy first hand.

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we’re not more depressed than we were – we just don’t have to make eye contact when we say it anymore

In 2012, Joel Stein branded millennials the ‘Me, Me, Me Generation’ for Time, describing them as ‘Lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents’. Less than forty years earlier, Tom Wolfe had written of the ‘Me Decade’ for New York Magazine, similarly describing the self involved qualities the baby boomer generation had come to possess. Every generation is adamant they have reasoning behind their downfalls; the generation preceding them being at fault, and the generation following reaping the rewards of their hard work.

While those born in the 20s to 40s – the silent generation – lived among an economic crash, their 50s and 60s children survived the repercussions of Vietnam and years of drug-fuelled changes in traditional prospects and attitudes. Millennials have no great war, nor anything beyond a somewhat unsteady political landscape, yet seem to be in a constant push-pull struggle with their mental health.

Why is it, that in a time of such prevalent empowerment of the masses, increasingly progressive mindsets, readily available technology, and less war and famine than any former generation has endured, are we now victim to an epidemic of young people caught in the throes of depression and anxiety? While former groups fought for survival, those born between 1982 and 2004 – currently aged 13 to 35 – find themselves living at a prosperous point in time where their great fortune affords the biggest threat to their wellbeing to be not from an outside source, but an internal one.

Continue reading “we’re not more depressed than we were – we just don’t have to make eye contact when we say it anymore”