I was watching an episode of American Horror Story: Coven. I started watching this particular episode with not even the hope to learn something — for I knew that the show that I was watching was nothing but mindless, dark fun.
But in the cold opening of the AHS: Coven episode The Dead, I was treated to a thought-provoking diatribe from Madison Montgomery (portrayed by Emma Roberts)’s character. She says these words in an internal monologue after being brought back to life — having been killed three or four episodes before.
“I am a millennial. Generation Y; born between the birth of AIDS and 9/11, give or take. They call us the global generation. We are known for our entitlement and narcissism. Some say it’s because we’re the first generation where every kid gets a trophy just for showing up. Others think it’s because social media allows us to post when we fart or have a sandwich for all the world to see. But it seems our one defining trait is a numbness to the world. An indifference to suffering.”
It was gut-wrenching to think that our generation is victim to a sweeping generalization that we are nothing but mere zombies who take selfies and Instagram pictures of all the food we eat. Are we really that shallow? Do we do anything and everything we can simply because we need to feel?
Take it from Madison, for instance. She was a movie star. She spent every minute in the limelight. But ever since she was killed and brought back for being a powerful witch, she has done everything humanly possible to feel something — anything, including taking every little pill or potion she could find and having sex with Kyle, the boyfriend of the closest person she can call a friend. By the end of the episode, Madison learns to feel again — so shouldn’t we be doing the same? Shouldn’t we stop tweeting for a second just to know the sensation of feeling?
It’s true, maybe there are millennials who exist in this world. Heartless people who live only for themselves. But is this really who we are?
I think our generation is not numb to suffering; rather, we are incredibly sensitive to it. We think that every single moment in our life should be chronicled and shared for the whole world to see. We tweet all of our triumphs, all of our heartbreaks, all of our feelings — maybe we got pissed because someone harshly bumped into us on the sidewalk and didn’t bother to apologize; maybe we talked to our crush and felt the faintest of sparks — it doesn’t matter. So maybe we are narcissists. But not in the insensitive way that the writers of AHS: Coven want the rest of the world to think.
Sure, maybe our generation does consist of narcissists. But it’s not without reason, and we shouldn’t be reduced to all the extras of The Walking Dead (in a metaphorical sense). Madison’s monologue reduced our generation to hollow selfie or tweet-machines incapable of feeling. And that’s not the case.
Our generation was born in the golden age of information — the Internet was evolving in such a way that information was on our fingertips whenever we wanted them to be. And maybe that helped our hubris grow, but I think it’s worth it to take note of the rest of the generation — the ones who didn’t fall victim to their ego — who use the Internet not just to post bad reviews of bad restaurants on Yelp, but as a means to develop and expand our aptitudes.
Let us also not forget that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter could also be used to mobilize nations, or in the case of tragedy, bring them to a pause. Take the recent tragedy caused by typhoon Yolanda, for instance. We netizens bore witness to the warmth and support that the rest of the world imparted to us, even if they were just words and pictures on a screen. Or when Cory Monteith passed away. Or when Beyoncé released an album out of nowhere. It’s moments like these that our generation takes pride in — moments that give every person in the world the capacity to celebrate and sympathize with each other, moments that give our generation a semblance of unity. These moments have allowed us to feel connected to people far away or even people we haven’t met.
Sure, people who would rather make a big deal out of the littlest of things exist — maybe he tripped and he flipped the bird on the whole universe for it — but our generation does not deserve to be discriminated because of a single generalization.
Although the monologue that sparked this post may have been a work of fiction, the feelings that I felt were very, very real. Let us take action, Generation Y. Let us prove to the rest of the world that we are more than selfie-generating machines. Let us prove to them that the Internet does not define us. Let us show them that we are real people with real feelings who have real depth.