MAD AS HELL: Curing the new American epidemic

By: Duke Staff

It’s 2016 in America, where in recent years, partisanship has trumped wishful thinking, the social media age has minimized civil debate and issues like the economy and terrorism have squandered the electorate’s faith in its government.

But on top of that, don’t people just seem a bit … angrier?

A new survey by Esquire magazine and NBC News found that half of Americans — Democrats and Republicans alike — say they are angrier than they were a year ago. A plurality of them say that they are living in a less powerful America, that the American dream is dead and that they get mad at least once every day at something they read or hear in the news.

Not only is this entirely unhealthy, but it has led to the early polling success of billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination. Trump has gained momentum from the electorate’s discontent by playing on what the survey’s authors call “the anger of perceived disenfranchisement — a sense that the majority has become a persecuted minority.”

As millennials who will soon graduate college, what can we make of this dreary outlook?

Certainly, the world isn’t the same as it was when our parents graduated; the presumption that you’ll settle down with a sizable income in a house with a white picket fence is fading, if not gone completely. And America seems less capable than ever to fix this problem.

As college students, we have the opportunity to combat this rage and bring positivity back into daily life, discourse and politics. A great deal of personal change will be necessary, but it can be extremely important leading up to the election.

It comes down to this: Unfortunately, you can’t control what other people say or do. Social media has made it almost too easy to voice frustrations. But you don’t have to engage people in their rage. By staying calm, cool and reasonable, one person can make a difference in the online conversation.

Sitting around complaining on social media about how awful the country is does nothing but make things worse. Channeling the negative energy we’re feeling right now into the internet does nothing but incite others even more. If we took that energy and applied it to something else, however, things could really start looking up.

No guarantee of a quaint suburban home and a job after graduation isn’t the death of the American dream. The dream is just changing, but we’re too used to privileges of old to accept it.

Sure, it’ll actually require some work, but at the end of the day, it can only serve to unify us and make us a stronger generation than last.

And in that, the American dream will be found once more.