Reality check

Column by Allison Borthwick, Opinion Editor

Displaced anger and apathy are as rampant as the injustices we misunderstand and ignore.

I’m taking an elective called Social Problems this semester with about 60 other students and, as the name of the class suggests, we talk about some heavy stuff.

The professor will play YouTube videos that show images of children who are addicted to cigarettes, enslaved women overseas working with hazardous American waste to turn a profit, infants deformed because of malnutrition, etc. More than half the students in the class don’t even look up from their phones, let alone bat an eye.

We’re lectured and informed of global, widespread issues and it hardly phases us because, frankly, who’s surprised? The shock value of staggering statistics and the pleas of hungry children has been replaced by an underwhelming sense of déjà vu.

We’ve seen and heard it all before.

“You better finish all the food on your plate, honey. There are starving kids in *insert any third-world country here*.”

We didn’t take that seriously when we were younger  – why would things be different now?

The other day I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed, a pretty generous term for something that’s really just a platform for “I’m proud to announce…” posts and animal videos, and actually came across a piece of news.

All I saw was “something something Kentucky something something blocks interracial/interfaith marriages something something,” shook my head and kept scrolling.

I couldn’t even bring myself to click on the link and read more because the headline alone screamed hopelessness and exhaustion.

We’re all just out here in the proverbial trenches of a regressing society, bracing ourselves for the blow of more disappointment and bad news, right?

Not necessarily.

I’m a white, middle-class American, so I’m not even in the front line of battle or in active duty – I’m just reading about and watching the coverage from the comforts of home, waiting for someone else to end the war.

The closest I’ve gotten to actually being in the trenches is when Gov. Matt Bevin proposed a budget that would affect my higher education, but even so, I’m graduating this May.

We all know about that particular injustice, and when the news broke it was the most actively angry I’ve seen my peers and professors get about something in a long time.

And then we published an editorial about a proposal to change our student classifications to something more politically correct and Murray-themed and the outrage in response to it was even more astounding.

That editorial reached tens of thousands of people, got thousands of post-clicks, was shared by nearly 100 people and blew the articles about budget cuts and performance-based funding right out of Facebook’s performance-based algorithm.

Michael Dobbs, former Student Government Association president, was one of many who shared the editorial.

“Call me crazy, but if students raised a fuss about the budget cuts to higher education proposed by Frankfort as much as they are about the idea of changing the traditional class rank terminology, their voices just might be heard,” Dobbs wrote.

We need to reassess our priorities and move from being a passive public to an active public.