The feeling generation
We're listening to our hearts so much we've stopped using our brains.
We’ve grown into a society that treasures emotional direction more than anything. Social media has fed us a steady diet of encouragement to “stand up for yourself” and “be yourself”, telling us to “follow our dreams” and to “do what you feel like doing”.
With that, we’ve come to feel that following our heart is paramount to living. This of course is a very dangerous idea, and here are three things that happen when we get too caught up with our emotions.
1. We follow our hearts more than our brains
For one, our society has become so blinded by our own emotions that we’ve lost the ability to use our brains to discern the credibility of things found online; if it feels right, then it must be right.
Just last week, Facebook announced that it would have to take more preventive measures to crack down on fake news sources. After all, fake news outperformed real news during the United States (US) Presidential election, getting more engagement and views than actual articles could.
This was all because most of us don’t read an entire article and ask ourselves, “does this really seem right?” before our hearts move our hands to click “share”.
It also means we are more easily swept up by emotional reactions, such as to Donald Trumping Clinton for the position of President in the US, than news that affects our country like the recent controversial decision for Singapore to have a reserved presidency for the Malays.
2. We care more about self-validation rather than actually doing good.
We are attracted to ideas of justice for the weak, but more because it makes us feel good than because it actually helps communities.
This has led us to “Slacktivism“, or virtually standing for what we believe in just to feel good, then forgetting about the issue after a few days as our statement of protest gets washed into the abyss of others’ posts online.
Remember the campaign by Invisible Children titled Kony2012 that got the world talking? Their 30-minute video talking about the sufferings happening in Africa under the Lord’s Resistance Army received countless shares and raised over S$28.5 million (US$20 million) in funds.
But after the feelings of hype fizzled out, few asked where the money really went, and fewer questioned if Kony had finally been taken down (he still hasn’t).
Closer to home; we’re excited with Community Involvement Projects, or Youth Expedition Projects, where we go somewhere to help build a house or two. We return home feeling great about ourselves and post our photo albums on the internet, but think little about the impact of our project, which may not always be positive.
3. We take everything too personally
Much like a playground argument with the last line being “your face is ugly”, social media has become a battle ground of opinions, where the debate isn’t about the matter at hand but attacking the person for their beliefs.
It seems you can be feminist, of a racial minority, gay, bisexual, asexual, transexual, lesbian and whatever other discriminated group, and people will support you with pride parades and declarations of support; but if you have any opinions that defend the majority, chances are, you will be shot down by social justice warriors.
We could all have a nice world where online debates are fully backed up by sources and we can have friendly discussions on topics we really believe in, but alas, we let our emotions cloud our better judgement and react to people with different beliefs as though they insulted our mothers.
If you ask me, we should just start using our heads more, and to let our hearts lead us less. In the words of Phua Chu Kang: “Use your brain lah!”