The current stream of oversensitive and meaningless Gen Y material is numbing. The internet is saturated in its white noise. Our news feeds are victims to the "outrage" that now define my generation. We interpret "freedom of speech" as "indulgence of speech". Importantly, as a result of the constantly reinvented hysteria it creates, Gen Y stymies its ability to actively debate and critically assess important issues.
Why does the material pumped out by my generation have this common stink? Tim Urban, writer of renowned blog Wait But Why, has labelled our overly vocal mob "GYPSYs": Gen Y Protagonists and Special Yuppies . Urban explains that bolstered by the promises of the most successful surviving generation, the Baby Boomers, Gen Y is deluded as to its uniqueness and its potential for wonder. Unrealistic expectations minimise the capacity to accept critical feedback. Couple this with a platform to connect to other like-minded souls (the internet), and you begin to see why our voice is so clearly the loudest.
It is this ill-fitting combination of ultimate self-belief and dependence on social media approval that engenders the outrage, often on somebody else's behalf, that is the stimulus for the content we produce. Self-justified in "having a voice" and "the right to speak our mind", we hound anyone who steps outside the impossibly narrow grounds of what we deem as acceptable.
At Yale at Halloween last year, Erika Christakis, a university lecturer, sent an email encouraging students to steer clear of "culturally unaware and insensitive" costumes. For her considerate comments, a faction of students is now trying to get her sacked. She is being attacked with hateful insults and shouted epithets. The students have justified their response by saying the email was "disrespectful" because the university should have realised they (the students) have obviously been considering the issue for a while. Get a grip.
Possibly the most annoying thing about Gen Y noise is that it is reactionary. Rarely taking initiative to tackle an issue head on, it chooses to lie dormant, waiting for someone to slip up before cranking up the noise machine.
But as good as it is at attacking, Gen Y excels at defending the hardly done by. The internet bears witness to it every day. Accumulating positive online support, or "likes", through defending something or someone is too easy. Accordingly, perhaps lured by the hope of digital affection, and equally scared by a backlash, Gen Y do nothing but cry "foul play" at every chance. It's a quick-fire way to gain attention through ostensible online chivalry.
This doesn't need to be as laborious as writing an article. You can, for example, simply change your profile picture to be tinted in the colours of the French flag.
Such an emotional response is not to be condemned; it is part of what makes us human. However, in constantly indulging in a mass emotive response, Gen Y fails to recognise that emotional expression rarely produces more than further emotion, while resolution remains beyond reach.
Take the instance of the drowned Syrian refugee, Aylan Kurdi: how the internet wailed. The outpouring of emotion instigated by this one photograph triggered a tidal wave of support for Europe to house Africa's refugees, based on a moral duty.
With Gen Y as the vanguard, the world was swept up in the clamour of outrage without perhaps considering many of the necessary questions and alternate solutions to a highly complex issue. As British author Douglas Murray pointed out: "The countries best equipped to deal with the migration problem were those which allowed a political discussion to go on."
It was the emotive response and resulting online furore to this issue that strangled those political discussions and cowered those who might oppose immigration in the name of reason.
It was a surprise for me to learn that that despite what much of the online noise would suggest, a recent BBC poll showed that most people in Britain wanted the government to take fewer refugees. Their voices were not heard. They were drowned out.
This is perhaps the greatest consequence of the noise created by Gen Y: its self-perpetuating hysteria prevents it from engaging in intelligible, distinguishable and constructive conversations about the future. If we remain intoxicated by our brittle belief of self-entitlement and obsessed with our need to speak, the content we create will be directionless and blunted.
Simply put, white noise is the whitewashing of a signal so it cannot be distinguished from background noise. It all becomes the same.
As humans, it is our reason rather than our emotion that has enabled us to distinguish between signal and noise. Gen Y is in a position of unheralded responsibility. Our capacity to tackle the many issues that now face us will come down to our ability to communicate with each other about what matters. The great tragedy and risk of drowning in a world of white noise is that we will forget what matters. Is this what we want?
Will McMahon is a Monash University law student.