There use to be two stereotypes for youth. Either you were a juvenile delinquent or a boring homebody. But now there are is pretty much just one label for Generation Y, a lazy excuse for a human being. Consumed by social media and continuously disconnected from the world and its issues surrounding them. But what if I was to tell you that is in fact not the case. What if I was to make the wild claim that young people are actually interesting in the world around them AND they are using social media to make change happen.
Generation Y today are exposed to and expected to interact with society through fast paced forms of communication. Twitter, Facebook and Youtube all allow youth to share, like and comment on political issues. But apart from liking something, how much further does the interaction go? Is social media actually effective when it come to getting youth involved in politics?
Take Kony 2012 for example. The amount of hype surrounding the whole saga took over the entire internet. But after Jason Russell’s breakdown, and the time between the video first appearing and the world wide Kony ‘awareness’ day, the cause lost the majority of its appeal. But that does depend if people actually knew what it was before hand. Simply clicking ‘Like’ doesn’t make you an activist, and it certainly doesn’t mean you care. Even though it was a slight fail, Kony 2012 was heard by millions of young people around the world because of social media.
Liking a cause of a group dedicated to changing the world on Facebook is the new way to being political. Social media is allowing youth from all around the world to come together to change their world. It is often said that young people have no interest in politics or ‘deeper’ issues past the horrible dress Kim Kardashian wore to the Met Gala, but that couldn’t be more wrong. Firstly is what politicians say really directed at young people? Unless you are 35, own a house and a mortgage with 3 kids under 18 and live within 100 km of Sydney’s CDB, the majority of day to day political banter is not going to be interesting or informative for you. Secondly, todays world is much more fast paced than 30 years ago. Traditionally people sat down to read the newspaper for a good hour, but why not be able to skim through the same amount of information while sitting on the bus going to uni? Multitasking is allowing young people to learn about a political issue, write a status about it and then like the group’s page who are organising the rally next week.
Such as Occupy Wall Street, a world wide phenomenon fuelled by social media. Some people still don’t know what exactly it is about, but regardless Twitter, Facebook and Youtube meant the message was spread worldwide and protestors were able to connect and share their experiences from Occupy movements from around the globe.
Youth participation regarding political issues and participation is completely different as to how their parents acted on their beliefs. The use of social media is allowing so much more than could ever be achieved from traditional media. The millions of Gen Yers around the globe are joining together to make political changes to influence their world.