As the adult world reels from the epic scolding they got from a girl who literally has to beg political leaders not to set her home on fire, the internet continues to prove that when we wipe out all intelligent life on the planet, the only thing that will be left are cockroaches… and online trolls. Well, I guess that means just cockroaches then.
Crawling out of the single-use-plastic-painted-to-look-like-woodwork, fully grown adults (from your racist aunt to the actual leader of one of the world’s most powerful nations) have spent the past month mocking a teenager for being a little upset her future family may have to be born in a bunker.
One of the most common online criticisms is that she’s too young to have these big, bold ideas that lead to speeches in the United Nations. And you know what, that’s fair. Well, less fair and more understandable anyway, because the people who actually type that shit out are 100% convinced it’s not her pulling the strings.
It’s hard for them to imagine being driven, eloquent and passionate at her age, because they never were. The generation that tells us we only care about Instagram and Fortnite is the same generation that had zero awareness of global issues until their mid-twenties. And mid-twenties is being generous.
At the risk of being that person who did a study-abroad programme and won’t shut up about it (which I also did, but more on Erasmus some other time), when I was Greta’s age I worked with the United Nations on very similar topics.
The comparison isn’t for me to get praise – I never achieved 1/1,000 of what she has done – but it is to prove the point that teenagers are capable of thinking big on their own.
In my case, I was the one begging to go to conferences, to give speeches and come up with projects that would impact the world. I wasn’t being puppeteered in any way, I just chose to spend as much of my free time as I could working towards something I believe in. It doesn’t take much (from anyone who has goals at least) to see that Greta is doing the same.
But why is she being mocked so much? The long and short of it is because, at the end of the day, Greta is a teenage girl (how dare she?!), and the unfortunate disposition of our society has led to a near knee-jerk mocking of anything young women find interesting.
Justin Bieber was considered a cancer in the music industry, people who enjoyed reading Twilight as teenage fiction were mocked relentlessly. Influencers like Tamara Webb are often asked if they have bigger plans for their career, because an army of teenage girls looking up to you apparently isn’t gratifying enough.
If young girls like it, then it must inherently be dumb. Which, ironically, is extremely dumb.
Think about it for a second; is Bieber’s Baby a lyrical masterpiece? No. But neither is All You Need Is Love – and at last check, wearing a Beatles tee won’t get you mocked on the street.
Despite the above examples, Greta’s platform is about a lot more than Vampire Diaries fanfic. She’s using her voice and the unique set of skills life dealt her to try and make a positive change in the world.
But when she’s not being told that she’s too young, or that she’s being used as a puppet, online comments by people who probably haven’t read a book since their O Levels call her out for not properly understanding the science behind climate change before discussing it. But why do they suddenly think this argument is irrelevant when asked how a man with zero political experience ended up the President of the United States. Shouldn’t he have been forced to read ‘Don’t Get Impeached 101′ before starting?
Say everything Climate Change experts predict is a lie. Say the planet doesn’t warm up and we don’t all die drowning in polar bears’ homes. What’s the worst possible outcome of switching to energy sources that don’t cause ever-increasing lung issues? What’s the harm in not setting fire to hundreds of thousands of animals in the rainforests? How bad would it be for everyone to have a renewable source of energy that won’t run out before the sun blows up – and by that point we’re pretty fucked anyway.
Also, before you lecture me about the tax hikes and job deletion positive environmental change will bring, please remember that America thinks taxing rich people to make hospitals free is a crazy idea, and back when computers were first invented, everyone was sure we’d be penniless on the street within the decade. But here we are, and the same people who would have attacked the rise of the computer are using the very same machine to be extremely thick online.