Lately, one of the most prolific memes I have seen disseminated throughout social media are variations of this:
I see this all over the Internet. There are several tumblrs devoted to “not giving a fuck.”
The problem is, I also see this in real life.
One could assume that this means that “not giving a fuck” is the new, cool thing to do, but let’s remember that correlation does not equal causation. Indeed, apathy has existed since the beginning of time… but it might be fair to suggest that it is becoming more common in today’s society – younger generations arguably boast a greater sense of entitlement, and, simultaneously, face fewer consequences and less accountability for misbehavior. Essentially, this breeds a lack of obligation and responsibility in our children. The modern day version of “being fed with a silver spoon becomes, “I got an iPhone when I was 8; now I’m 10 and I’m really good at posting selfies to instagram and #hashtagging #swag #shareforshare #followforfollow #lookatallthefucksigive.”
Since when did apathy become something to aspire to? Merriam-Webster defines apathy as:
1. lack of feeling or emotion
You know who is infamous for apathy? Psychopaths… or, if we’re referencing the DSM-V, those with antisocial personality disorder. Brain scans of individuals with this diagnosis reveal that their amygdalas – the emotion processing center in the brain – are abnormally small. Symptoms include a lack of remorse, as well as the use of superficial charm and manipulation to obtain selfish ends. To not give a fuck is psychologically maladaptive.
On the other hand, let’s remember those famous for giving a very big fuck: Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Susan B. Anthony, and Anne Frank, to name a few. Their passion – and their compassion – were palpable; they left the world a better place because they cared enough to do so. This is the model we should be emulating and instilling in our children.
Ultimately, not giving a fuck gives rise to dysfunction in every arena of one’s life. For instance, it is one impetus for bullying: if a kid doesn’t care about the repercussions of his actions (potentially because there are none), and doesn’t care about the feelings of his peers, it is much more likely that he will torment someone he views as different or weak. On the other hand, a child who is strictly disciplined (both at home and at school) for breaking the rules, and a child who was raised to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before judging, probably won’t be calling a fellow classmate a nerd, a freak, a slut, a fatass, or a faggot.
Additionally, sometimes I will post my opinion about a current event on Facebook. There are always those who respond with “Who cares?” or “Cool story, bro,” or “tl;dr” (too long, didn’t read). I cannot create within you an urge to care, and I can only respect your opinions (or lack thereof). However, I can assert with confidence that our world will remain stagnant, at best, and crumble completely, at worst, if the attitude of “Who cares?” pervades. Impassivity and aloofness isn’t cool or sexy – to me, it’s a sign of insecurity. Think of the sexiest and most captivating man or woman you know. I’d be willing to bet that one of the things that makes them so attractive is their passion and zest, not their disinterest and torpor.
Stephen Crane, a famous American writer, penned one of my favorite poems:
A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”
The massive, nebulous, unknowable Universe could care less about our existence. It will keep trudging forward for eternity, with or without us. Some use this as justification for their apathy – if our existence is meaningless, what is the point of trying or caring? I agree that our lives have no inherent meaning… instead, I believe that we create our own purpose, in existential fashion. And, as far as we know, we only have this one life. What will your life’s purpose be? Will it be driven by pockets that filled with all sorts of fucks that you give – fucks about your family, fucks about your career and your education, fucks about the greater world in which we live? Your pockets might be a little heavy, even burdensome at times. They may cause you to walk slower, drag your feet. But when your pockets are empty of fucks, the problem is, you just might float away on a jet stream of indifference.
This is a call to end the culture of not giving a fuck. This is a call to stop bragging about an ostensible deficiency of humanity and emotion…instead, let’s make a commitment to cultivate empathy and compassion towards our fellow man. The world is only getting bigger and more complicated every day. Progress has never been inspired by apathy – progress only occurs when someone cares enough to take a stand, when they alter their behavior on a micro- and macro- scale, and when they scream from every rooftop that they, for one, are not ashamed to give a fuck.