By Chloe Meyere
On Jan. 21, I took a walk down Pennsylvania Avenue with a million like-minded ‘friends.’ I swore it was the beginning of an epic uprising, the first one where millennials could be the leaders. I was so certain that my generation would be responsible for the president’s downfall that I wrote about it. It even landed me a few death threats, kindly mailed to my office. But I didn’t care. I was ready to fight the good fight.
It’s now July, and I’m feeling embarrassed. And to all my fellow millennials: you should too.
The resistance was positioned to become one of the greatest revolutions in American history, and just like dinner dates and department stores, we had to ruin it.
When I returned from D.C., I took active steps to contribute. I joined my local Indivisible chapter, started making daily phone calls, went to town halls and planned marches. I naively thought that my friends were doing the same — persuaded by my overwhelming pleas.
“Your activism is great!,” they would praise. “How can I help?,” they’d ask enthusiastically.
It wasn’t until my first major organized event that I realized how horribly wrong I was. I came with a megaphone, expecting to meet my 100 closest Facebook friends for a march where we, in inspired yet peaceful unison, would stand up for what we believe in.
Except when I got there, they were nowhere to be found. Instead, I was met by a sea of grey. Grey hair, that is. I was thankful for the attendance – even the media took note. Still, I was overwhelmingly disappointed in my peers. For the first time since that inspiring day in D.C., I decried my own optimism as misguided and foolish. The next week, I watched in horror as my actual, real-life friends broke windows and wreaked violent havoc on Portland’s streets.It didn’t get better. The positive feedback and persistent inquiries slowly began to fade.
My friends began condemning my involvement. They started calling me, the “political one,” almost always accompanied by a not-so-encouraging eye roll.Now, not only were they acting out violently, but they were shaming my attempts at fighting for the cause. This trend is not unique to my social circle. A recent report, based on a Lake Research Partners poll, found that 86 percent of people participating in protests were women, and 66 percent were over the age of 45. The Washington Post, which has been recording protest activity since January, has also noted a steady decline in turnout. Even our elected officials, like Sen. Kamala Harris (D, Calif.), have noted the decrease in phone call frequency, and the more sparsely attended town halls.
The resistance is losing fuel, and it’s because we – the young people who are typically in charge of this – have stopped actively caring. Instead, our grandparents have had to pick up the slack, as usual.
Woodstock is over and our seniors deserve a break. They want to hand us the torch (believe me, I’ve asked), but are struggling to find any takers.
So the next time you start to tweet #resist, or share a Facebook post condemning the vulgarity that is this administration, I want you to think carefully before hitting ‘send.’ Remember, in the time is takes to write a witty post or find an anti-Trump meme, your representatives would have loved to take your call.
With the money you spent on a #nohate shirt (which you so cleverly featured on your Instagram) you could have supported a worthy cause, like the nearly-defunded Planned Parenthood. Being an activist exclusively on social media is just not enough when every American value is under attack.
I won’t be able to make you care or get involved. And if like me, you are someone who has profited from immense privilege, I can’t force you to use it to help others. Nevertheless, I will never stop trying.Φ
Chloe Meyere is a recent graduate from University of Oregon and the communications coordinator for the school’s Sustainable Cities Initiative.