I just finished reading Give and Take which happens to be A Revolutionary Approach to Success as stated by the book's subtitle. Another book I read and enjoyed ignited Susan Cain's Quiet Revolution" and the "Doodle Revolution" led by Sunni Brown was recently featured in one of my favorite podcasts. It seems everywhere I turn there is some sort of "revolution" going on, so much so that I wonder what the term has come to mean.
For example, does the guy at the end of this video really believe he is starting a revolution with this "smart helmet"? Or is he just using some old recycled copy everybody else has already burned through in the last decade? Either way, I think he is a little annoying.
In an article in the New Yorker called Small Change, Malcolm Gladwell states, "Where activists were once defined by their causes they are now defined by their tools . . . Fifty years after one of the most extraordinary episodes of social upheaval in American history (civil rights), we seem to have forgotten what activism is."
I will be the first to admit that I don't think I really know what it is like to be a part of a real movement. Everything is a movement these days, just like everything is a revolution. Maybe it is a symptom of being a Millennial to make bold and sweeping claims that you are going to change everything with a revolution. Somehow it seems like the lost quality of terms like "movement" and "revolution" signifies the diminishing essence of our society's moral and social fabric. If we all want to change the world, who will be around to ensure those changes are sustainable? Will we all the change the world in ways that lead to a more united or more disconnected society? We are so hasty to indicate that we are in want of change, when I believe we should be even more interested in listening and understanding those who live in the current reality. I can't think of a better example than the way the western world has treated (and continues to treat) the continent of Africa over the last few decades.
Another quote from Gladwell's 2010 article:
"The evangelists of social media don’t understand this distinction; they seem to believe that a Facebook friend is the same as a real friend and that signing up for a donor registry in Silicon Valley today is activism in the same sense as sitting at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro in 1960 . . . (social media) makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have any impact."
Social media and the Internet at large has made it easier than ever to start a movement or ignite a revolution. But at the end of the day, maybe we should take a step back and reflect on what we are moving away from or revolting against? I am very unhappy with what has happened in Ferguson and what continues to happen on a daily basis to people of color all across America. However, I don't think the solution will come with a few likes or tweets. Something more substantial is required, and I don't know what that is. Maybe maintaining the identity of the public school system to enable people of different colors and classes to interact and learn together? Or perhaps pouring more resources in developing strong family units rather than tearing them apart by sending kids to jail or parents to a foreign country? I don't know.
Public school and the traditional family unit are old news. But maybe if I frame it right, I could start a revolution to bring them back to the center of our society.
I am a graduate student in Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University. I enjoy writing, hiking, and spending time with my family.