Twitter’s #prayforcameron Hashtag Has Decimated My Optimism for Gen Z

by Lucas Witherspoon

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In between episodes of season two of House of Cards (side note: how brilliant is this season?), I took a break to check my social media accounts. While on Twitter, I noticed the hashtag #prayforcameron. Hashtags asking for prayer requests aren’t really abnormal on Twitter and generally I’ll click on them to see if I’ve missed something worthwhile in the news. I fully expected this Cameron person to be a cancer-stricken child or murdered civilian who had been politically martyred by the media as a representation of civil unrest in a foreign country.

The reality: he’s an Internet “celebrity” who cut his foot while filming a video. I’m being serious. Mind you, this wasn’t some minor blip on the list of the U.S.’s trending topics, it was number two:

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You may notice that ‘Venezuela’ also happens to be a trending topic. Well, most certainly, whatever happens to be going on in Venezuela can’t be nearly as important as an Internet figure’s lacerated foot, can it? Not unless you consider protests against massive inflation in Venezuela that has subsequently resulted in skyrocketing crime rates and widespread food shortages–a simplified version of a much more complex political labyrinth–to be more dire than a foot injury.

Generation Y is defined as including people born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, though I’d argue that that’s both far too broad a range of people and that it should only include those born up until the mid-90s, while Generation Z encompasses people born between the late 1990s and mid-2000s. Both groups have been stereotyped as being self-involved, narcissistic young people with a pervasive Peter Pan complex, but that image holds far truer in the case of Gen Z.

It’s easy to say that Gen Z is at a disadvantage because they’re being brought up in a world where lackluster formal education is the norm, superficiality being valued over intellect is at an all-time high, and the witless media is ubiquitous, but realistically, they’re at an advantage in terms of their access to information. The real problem lies in their lack of a want to expand their minds and understanding of the world. It’s true that the American media is notorious for whitewashing and diluting the news, particularly when it pertains to international matters, but if there is a desire to open yourself to the realities and goings-on in the world, you easily can. The Internet is infinite and practically as instinctive to Gen Z as breathing. However, if there’s no will to venture outside of what’s comfortable, people won’t.

Therein lies the problem: there’s no aspiration to self-educate or be more mindful and cerebrally vigilant.

That’s why a photo of a foot gash like this:

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Gets more attention than an image like this, of a woman who died after she was shot in the head during the Venezuelan protests:

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The unfortunate irony between the two photos is that they both highlight societal frivolity concerning human aesthetic. Strangers care about Cameron Dallas because he happens to be a generically attractive person, while the bottom photo has arguably been the most extensively shared because Génesis Carmona happened to be a Venezuelan beauty queen. The headline ‘Venezuelan beauty queen killed’ piques more interest and garners more readership because it concerns a good-looking, glamorous person.

To be clear, this isn’t an attack on Cameron Dallas himself; I don’t know him personally (nor do 99.9 percent of his 1.16 million Twitter followers), but he seems like a nice kid. It’s also not my saying people aren’t allowed their mindless vices, which would be highly hypocritical on my part. What I am denouncing is contentedness with being uninformed. Willful ignorance is not only a self-detriment, but it stunts human progression as a whole. Amelioration will never be the result of knowing less.

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