How Our Generation’s Silence Was Bought by Pictures of Little Kittens

Kittens or Save the World…Aww, Kittens…So Cute!

I know you – you’re just like me. More times than not, your face is set aglow by the dim light of a mobile device or laptop as you stare down at Facebook and Pinterest. You see, you and I are a lot alike. We both live our lives vicariously through pictures of places in the world that we will never go to, and people doing things we will never try, posted by people whom we will never meet. Our political involvement consists of clicking the like button on a quote about freedom or, if we’re feeling really inspired (and daring), cautiously clicking the share button. We believe that we are participating in making the world a better place when we do as asked and change our profile picture to support a cause. And when all the posts about bad economies, starving children, and corrupt politicians get to be too much, we scroll down until we find a quiz that tells us which celebrity we are.

…Meanwhile, in the real world, that’s the world that has things you can actually touch, smell, and taste; you’d recognize it again if you ever stumble back into it. There are a few brave souls who have volunteered to go out and do things and travel to places so that they can upload the pictures that we collect and pass around on our virtual boards and pages. This real world is where we used to play as children, back when we imagined being superheroes. But the world is not the same place that we remember from our childhood. It’s still not a bad place, but it’s getting rough. You see, all of us children grew up, and then walked into the new virtual world. Now, new ideas, innovations, thoughts, and perspectives have all disappeared, leaving nothing but old ways, old thoughts, and old leadership to try and hold the ever-changing world together. We were supposed to be the ones to take over and make the world a better place, but then something happened.

Aww, kittens. That is what happened. We were unprepared for our role as adults and leaders (not all our fault, but that’s another story). We were easily distracted by no great scheme or conspiracy, but merely by circumstance and coincidence, our eyes wandered into a virtual world, a safer place, that can be turned off and ignored if things aren’t going our way. Now, with many of us in our late twenties and early thirties, we can barely recall who and what we were supposed to become. Our greatness was purchased with pictures of kittens and puppies, our purpose was traded in for the latest smartphone, and our real world has been forsaken, if not entirely forgotten, and replaced by stories of celebrity scandals told 140 characters at a time.

So here is the real story, the truth unveiled. Hungry children are not fed by likes and shares, causes are not won through profile pictures, posting a picture quote by a founding father does not make you a hero (shocking I know). You’re not doing your part by retweeting a plea for help, becoming more engaged does not mean you join a hangout. Oh right, and parenting does not mean you check in with your kids on Foursquare (exaggeration..maybe, maybe not).

Don’t get me wrong: social media and technology can be a great tool and some fun, but let’s not confuse our virtual world with the real one that is desperately calling out for our help. We can use our virtual groups to move information, gain support, even raise money, but at some point, the virtual resources need to turn into real world action, leadership, accountability, and movement.

Now, look up from your screen and find a real world impact to make. Oh, wait…before you go, can you please spread the word and share this on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Reddit, Stumbleupon, and Tumblr, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and sign up for our email updates…then go save the world!