How many people enjoy being told what to do? How many actually thrive on it? Most would say "not many". After my weekend, I beg to differ. Yesterday, I had the chance to go downtown to witness Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Day parade before walking over through the Strip District for lunch. Despite Pittsburgh's modest size (around 60th in terms of population in the United States), we do have one of the largest St. Patrick's Day parades in the country, aside from New York, and perhaps Chicago. The parade is rarely remarkable, but it's something to do on a Saturday morning, and at least half of the audience is families from around the city. It's something positive to see for a change.
...That is, until the parade ends. The other half of spectators are primarily college students or 20-somethings with apparently nothing to study, with money to spend, with tons of extra green and shamrocks to wear, and with poor decisions flowing freely from their brains. Driving through the SouthSide yesterday was akin to having the last car on earth in Walking Dead or War of the Worlds scenario. Rules were completely thrown out the window as revelers took their beverages to the sidewalks, crossed the streets randomly in front of traffic, and moved about in loud, obnoxious packs. Perhaps no longer brave enough to survive these elements, or perhaps wise enough to understand the danger of bored people with nothing to do and nowhere to go, I quickly left the area and went back home to watch some House of Cards.
What really amazed me was the sheer volume of people ready, willing, and eager to throw a party for absolutely no reason. As much as college students and the general public claim to be independent and express their disdain for authority, they will participate en masse in a giant, profit-making fest in order to celebrate nothing. I saw countless green Penguin jerseys, sold to suckers for a single day of the year. The Strip District was filled with merchandise and gear for a parade designed to celebrate the fact that there was a parade, and a party designed to celebrate the fact that there was a party. At least July 4th, Halloween, the Super Bowl, and Memorial Day have a guiding focus...but this decadent display had no core.
Of course, if people want to (safely and legally) have a fun day with their friends, more power to them. Provided you're not making poor choices, it's not a bad way to spend the day. It's interesting though how many people actually like being told what to do. Too few people today have the courage or the creativity to plan their own festivities, to make their own adventures, or to invent their own memories. The best they can hope for is a share of another movement's required activities, so they can say "me too" when asked about their weekends on Monday.
English Teacher | Instructional Technology Specialist | 2014-15 PBS Digital Innovator | Gamification Researcher | Marathon Runner | Ph.D RMU 2015