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The Fight Against Apathy

How apathy is hampering social and political progress

I’ve seen it everywhere — campus-sponsored events. Voting turn-out. Social media posts.

We’re starting to care less. We don’t turn up as much as we used to. We flake on commitments and stay glued to our screens. We sit as armchair activists instead of showing up in person. We learn to care less and less; we’ve mastered “the subtle art of not giving a f*ck.”

As events like school shootings become more and more commonplace, many of us have desensitized ourselves to violence. There comes a point where the nation as a collective has heard of so many shootings and been through so much trauma that with each new event, we grow numb. We consume less media, in some cases. In others, we can’t keep our eyes off of everything that’s been happening.

Every consecutive day seems to usher in a new chapter of our very dystopian world.

We rail about the systems that’ve failed us time and time again over drinks at bars. We smoke to escape reality — because to face reality itself is such a daunting feat that we could very well find ourselves at wit’s end time and time again.

As we grow older, we learn to care less. We learn to accept the status quo for what it is and harbor a defeatist attitude. “That’s the way things are,” we say, as we strive for acceptance.

The idealism and naivety we experienced when we were younger often goes away. We choose apathy over caring, since caring too much leads us to burn out over time. And caring about everything is simply exhausting. It’s an unsustainable way to live.

And I know, too often, how cynicism can lead to apathy about virtually everything. Once you stop caring, things seem less pressing. You relinquish your sense of agency, strip yourself of the power you have as an individual, and succumb to popular beliefs in the limits of your own power.

The problem is, though, that if you stop caring about people — about securing basic human rights for everyone — if you stop caring about what you see in the news, if you choose to numb yourself to when people grieve after being victims of heinous crimes — you begin to condone the very behavior that you may have previously found to be atrocious.

That’s what scares me most. When people as a collective whole decide to stop caring.

And I think people have started to rally and protest against all the shit that’s happened. People have started caring because they’ve found that not turning up at the polls, that not casting a vote for a representative who reflects their views — that has serious consequences for the health of our so-called democracy.

The lasting implications of inaction and apathy are endless. And so I suppose this is a cautionary tale for those who wish to help change the way things are.

Know what’s within your control. Know what’s outside it. And try to muster up the energy to care about the things that really matter in this world. Show a little more kindness. Be good and prosocial. Because those little actions add up over time. Making life a little easier for other people (yourself included) and caring about yourself and others — that’s better than not giving a fuck about anyone outside of yourself.

That’s the attitude I’ve adopted, at least. To care even when caring seems counterproductive.

But the price of not caring — the price of apathy — is far too high for our society to bear.

So fight against apathy. Stay informed. Seek knowledge for the sake of seeking knowledge. And hopefully we’ll contribute to society’s collective knowledge and improve the general welfare as a whole.

And perhaps that’s the best we can do.