On April 6th, terrifying pictures of children and adults lying on the ground were flooding social media, denoting what The New York Times says is the “worst chemical attack in years” for Syria. At least 70 people were killed, and 100 hospitalized—many of them children. Many were devastated by this, but this news story only got so much attention over the course of the next few hours, and there were little to no following posts with fundraisers or support for Syria. Sadly, Twitter also lacked the typical hashtag go-to of millennials tweeting their support for a country in need.
The same day, much later, social media swarmed with pictures of posts regarding Pepsi. Pepsi recently released a very controversial ad starring Kendall Jenner that unintentionally degraded the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as underestimated the overall issue of police brutality. While this is definitely a massive issue, it is simultaneously acting as a distraction for what we all need to really worry about.
Our generation, particularly the millennials, are infatuated with bringing something down or making fun of people or things that mess up. It seems as though it’s easier to say “Haha, Pepsi is horrible,” than to discuss how scary a massive chemical poisoning is and what to do about it. An ad that does a horrible job of outlining a way to fix an issue is bad, but surely not as problematic as hundreds of children and adults dying from chemical attacks.
Stephen Colbert recently praised Kendall Jenner, reminding us how our country is more divided than ever, “but today, it seems that everyone has come together to join the protest against the new protest ad from Pepsi.” What’s insightful about this is that it does show that the millennial generation will come together and tackle something that we all view as a problem, but it certainly doesn’t display our ability to attempt to solve something in the right way, let alone distinguish what’s important and what’s not.
So Pepsi made an incredibly unrelatable and offensive ad—it happens and, while they at least apologized, this is certainly not the worst possible thing that can occur right now. It seems that anything we can make funny tweets or memes about will get more attention, which is a more mundane approach and interpretation of a situation. However, our perceptions of events in relation to our excessive use of social media are getting a bit out of hand, as displayed by the reactions to Pepsi. While it might seem fun and easy to put down a company for making an awful commercial, there are more important things to focus on that will impact us more than a bad commercial ever will. The Pepsi ad might have offended some people in the short-run, but in the long-run, chemical poisoning and death should affect us even more and could affect us even worse if we don’t act and try to make a change.