EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is Karlee Prahl’s winning entry in the Litchfield VFW’s Patriot’s Pen essay contest.
What is Patriotism to me? As a young child in contemporary society, this question is rarely asked. I believe that being raised in a first world country, like America, with all of the resources and technological advancements at our convenience, we feel some loss of purpose or fire to drive our actions. Our sense of tribalism is lost in the digital loneliness that seems to inhabit our country.
For instance, let us pretend you had grown up in the Great Depression. Although those times were undoubtedly tough for most Americans, we were all fighting a common enemy — economic stability or lack thereof. People felt like they belonged because they had akin struggles and shared similar morals and values. They pushed through difficult times together in hopes of a better and brighter future.
I am not saying that technology is all bad, but it has arguably caused problems. Social media allows us to connect virtually, but at what cost? Computer algorithms incentivize posts with the most views, causing clickbait and echo chambers. When someone clicks on a radical or even fake post, these algorithms create a pattern that leads you down a rabbit hole.
Our arrogant and headstrong nature has been acquired, arguably, through the advancements of our country. This arrogance has led us into a feeling of entitlement and superiority, even towards our fellow Americans. Along with this feeling of superiority, there seems to be a prevailing need among Americans to voice their controversial opinions publicly. This sort of action leads almost always to polarization in views and intense disagreements. Being an extremist for either side politically is a very dangerous mix that leads to altercations and even to disheartening outcomes: violence, hatred, rioting, and prejudice.
As I have previously stated, our country is not as it once was. Although the achievements we have attained technologically and economically are undisputedly impressive, the overall morale of America has been torn down. Why have we lost our sense of community? Due to the radical ideological parties that conflict with our unity, we have lost the bond that we once shared, leaving little to no patriotism, the driving force that could keep our country together. If we want to grow as a country, we first need to acknowledge our differences and work past them as a whole.