One progressively more terrifying thing about adulthood is that you start to feel personally responsible for the myriad shortcomings of your generation, and worse yet, you worry about the unknowable monsters said shortcomings will eventually become. I.e. our anonymous LiveJournal aggression and MySpace mirror pics have manifested into a kaleidoscopic hell pit of selfie sticks, duck faces, and obvious underwear as festival attire (Explosion emoji. Chick breaking out of an egg emoji. Smiling purple demon emoji.) I was at Lollapalooza this year, and I for one didn't see any future presidential candidates.
I'm joking, but I'm not. Because the internet, we have a much simpler time gaining access to a global audience and connecting with like-minds than creatives of yore. But also, because the internet, does anyone really put him or herself out there anymore...IRL? I mean, today's relative ease and encouragement of self-expression objectively RULES, but when it's this easy to invent a persona, is anyone actually bold?
I recently boarded a school bus with a bunch of humans I didn't know (or know well) to go indoor skydiving. I know. Hair flip. And listen: I talk to people I don't know all the time. I've got the free soy latte hookup because I've befriended all my neighborhood baristas. Uber drivers invite me to their weddings. But it was the first time in a long time that I had to forge a community, albeit a temporary one, without the security of mutual friends, common interests, or reciprocal admiration for our respective internet presences. Just a dozen kids. On a bus. Off to don Top Gun-esque jumpuits and simulate falling from the sky in a man-made air chamber near O'hare International Airport... like true Americans!
All this to say, I'm nervous that we're losing our collective chutzpah. We live and we skydive in a vacuum. We're very attached to our squads, even when we're solo. We've adopted this faux-valor wherein we declare, loudly and often, who we are and what we love... but I don't think it's scary enough! We're too comfortable, and I'm starting to think that self expression without struggle might be bullshit. And connections based off of bullshit self expression might ALSO be bullshit.
You lone wolves, you little brave ones who roll solo and don't require constant validation from your crew - I think you're dynamite. Looks like I need lessons. And in the meantime, I resolve to put myself in a position to be intimidated more often.