He cites the tendency of current students to study abroad despite the threat of global terrorism, not to mention building homes for the poor in El Salvador and volunteering at AIDS clinics. ROTC service is not frowned upon; in fact, members wear their uniforms on campus with pride. "Teach for America" has become the Baby Boomers' equivalent of the Peace Corps.
These admirable strides toward service considered, Friedman contends that this generation is "...too quiet, too online, for its own good, and for the country's own good." Despite a ballooning budget deficit, a Social Security plan threatened in terms of long-term solvency, and global climate change encroaching from all corners, the "sound of silence" echoes from Generation Q. Such threats demand activism, but this generation is wont to send an email, sign an online petition, or "click for carbon neutrality." Instead, "they will have to get organized in a way that will force politicians to pay attention rather than just patronize them."
Facebook groups and MySpace postings do little more than occupy time and fill screen space. I know that there are exceptions, like the Facebook group that organized a DC rally for Senator Obama at which he appeared, but most are more of the surface variety, such as "Bear Fans for Brian Griese." Christine Rosen of the Christian Science Monitor said it best when she wrote, "...users (of social networking sites) are committed to self-exposure. The creation and conspicuous consumption of intimate details and images of one's own and others' lives is the main activity in the online social networking world."
All in good humor, of course, but these times call for a seriousness wanting amongst our youth, and these technologies can serve a greater purpose. The hope is that they inspire and coordinate "boots on the ground" action to make this country a better place, similar to the civil rights revolution of the 1960's. To date, their impact has been quite the opposite. According to Rob Nyland of BYU, users of social networking sites "feel less socially involved with the community around them." Moreover, those who use these sites for entertainment purposes tend to be less socially involved.
Time to turn off the computer and take to the streets. The very fabric of our democratic republic demands more as we "amus(e)...ourselves to death."