The overbearing narcissism and self-indulgence of Gen-Z, as displayed through their pseudo-moralistic cultural mandate on activism.
On Monday, I attended my younger brother’s high school graduation, (hooray for Class of ’21!). After four long years, and an even longer year of COVID mask mandates and virtual learning, my brother had made it over the finish line, and would be receiving his high school diploma.
Words could not express the pride on my parents’ faces as he made his way across the stage, shaking the hands of the high school faculty and board members as he was handed his diploma, the next stage of his life was now set to begin.
Such a grand occurrence that is a high school graduation surely invoked similar emotions in the hundreds of other families that were gathered there, watching their own sons and daughters walk across the stage and move on to the beginning stages of true adulthood.
Unfortunately, the grandeur and excitement of such an event was ultimately tarnished when this year’s valedictorian gave what could very well go down as one of the worst graduation speeches in the history of high school valedictorians.
Her speech started off relatively well-written. Reflections on herself, her career plans, how they have changed, and making good points about how life can change at any moment. All of these things are great for valedictorians to say when they finally find themselves standing behind a podium in front of their entire class. Remarking about things that your fellow classmates can relate to is surely important.
Unfortunately, the makings for a genuinely great last-day-of-high-school speech were promptly squashed by her decision to use such an opportunity to come out as bisexual and give her classmates – and her entire hometown, for that matter – yet another cliché, moralizing lecture about the different types of ‘-phobias’ that have supposedly run rampant throughout the community.
“Today, under this purple gown, I am wearing a pink suit and blue shoes, because pink, purple, and blue are the colors of the Bi Pride flag,” she explained. The audience proceeded to cheer following her first remark of what would evolve into one of the biggest woke tirades a high school graduation has ever seen.
“I woke up not sure if I was going to follow through with this today, but I want to enter the next chapter in my life as me,” she said. “And because I’m very proud of who I am, I will not hesitate to point out how homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia is very, very real in this town!” She further exclaimed.
What came next was a series of accusatory statements directed at her classmates:
“How a few members on the boys’ soccer team this past fall deliberately encouraged the use of the term ‘gay’ as an insult.”
“How people in this grade frowned upon classmates who had their pronouns next to their names on Zoom this year. How that one player in senior assassin called their opponent the F-slur.”
She then went on to ensure that her arbitrary claim to victimhood didn’t only apply to her:
“And I have no doubt that people here have been victims to much worse than what I just mentioned, not just for their sexuality and/or gender identity, but also for their religion, physical appearance, neurodiversity, ethnicity, race.”
“You all know who you are,” she scolded.
What is distasteful here is her hijacking of what was for all intents and purposes supposed to be a non-political celebratory event centered around high school graduation and turning it into a political speech. Speeches given by valedictorians are generally bound by custom. Don’t get me wrong, originality should be encouraged, but centering your graduation speech around your sexual preferences, and then proceeding to scold your classmates about how the entire town is rife with discrimination against minorities reeks of self-indulgence and contempt.
This is not to say all of her statements are completely false. Yes, all sorts of ‘-phobias’ are indeed very real in my hometown, but they’re also very real everywhere else. There is always going to be that group of close-minded people who choose to hate others based on physical or emotional characteristics that no one can control, such as race, gender, or sexuality. To hold her entire community in contempt for what can only be described as a small number of isolated incidents regarding milquetoast insults made by high schoolers is trivial to say the least.
Besides, for as much as she would like to stake her claim in the ever-growing oppression Olympics, it’s very hard to see how she was a victim of anything. She grew up in what is by all means one of the safest towns in the United States. It is the epitome of conventional American upper-middle class suburbia. The public school system receives the majority of the tax dollars collected and is renowned by many as one of the best in the state.
Many of the town’s “oppressed minorities” actually come from some pretty well-off families and go to some pretty prestigious universities after their time here.
Our distinguished valedictorian evidently took advantage of every wonderful opportunity that came her way, and though no one should fault her for that, it surely explains the current position she is in now: An oboist in her high school’s most advanced band, member of multiple honor societies, and her recent enrollment in a very prestigious university, just to name a few of her accomplishments. Nothing strokes the luscious fibers of irony quite like a well-off suburban white girl who attempts to procure her very own victim card simply because she’s sexually attracted to boys and girls!
I’m writing about this experience because I believe it speaks to a much larger phenomenon regarding American politics, specifically with my generation, Gen-Z.
Gen-Z is most likely the youngest politically engaged generation in American history. Never before have teenagers devoted themselves to the national political conversation in the way that Gen-Z teenagers do.
Unfortunately, like most generations of young people, Gen-Z skews heavily towards the left; and with a heavy mainstream leftist skew in modern America often comes the meandering, cognitively dissonant ideology of Wokeism. And with Wokeism, there often comes the necessity (and weaponization) of activism in all walks of life. Such activism is often based on pseudo-moralistic principles that rely on generalizing and falsely assuming the experiences of people based on race, skin color, gender, or sexuality to separate them into arbitrary ‘identity groups’.
The autonomy of such identity groups is emphasized far more than the autonomy of the individual. The unifying commonality of these ‘identity groups’ is their mutual disdain for American institutions, as all of them, no matter how benign or neutral their functions may be, are supposedly systemically racist and exclusive from top to bottom.
All of this is obviously blatantly untrue, not to mention patently absurd, but this is essentially the same type of propagandized hogwash that was spewed by the Class of 2021’s valedictorian this year.
This has far more to do with the left’s current conception of identity in a modern societal context, but that’s a different story. The point is that woke culture’s rise to mainstream prominence seems to have severely impacted how members of my generation interact with each other.
The culture of “tolerance and inclusion” ironically tends to lead to the intolerance and exclusion of those who dare issue their dissent. Those of my peers who posted black squares on Instagram last summer and cherry-picked Martin Luther King quotes about how rioting “is the language of the unheard” from the safety of their million-dollar suburban homes became addicted to the euphoric high that it induced, mostly due to the sense of moral supremacy they felt towards anyone who dared to disagree.
All of a sudden, social interaction, especially on social media, is now governed by what hashtags or pronouns you put in your Instagram bio, or how many infographic slide posts you reposted to your story, or of course, who you planned to vote for in November (if you were old enough to vote, of course. Most Gen-Z kids still can’t vote, which makes this even funnier).
The perpetual lies of America being an irredeemably exclusive and evil place from the top-down has created a generation of angry, uninformed teenage narcissists who believe blind outrage and arbitrary claims to victimhood are virtuous. The more oppressed you are, the higher your social standing seems to be. It’s ironic, considering it would make sense if those with ‘the most privilege’ were actually afforded more social and cultural influence, and yet it would seem that the more privilege you are perceived to have, the less privilege you’re actually given in this brave new world.
This was ultimately the type of culturally endorsed dissonance that this valedictorian laced her speech with on Monday. She only seemed to acknowledge her fellow classmates when it was time to chastise them for whatever ‘-phobia’ came to mind. She then proceeded to storm off the stage and promptly sat back down in her chair in a sort of take that! kind of attitude.
If the high school administration allowed her to flip everyone the bird on stage, she probably would have.