Why it is important to give a f_*k!
Young people, it’s time to buck up our ideas and start giving a f_*k about our futures. E2E’s polital editor Abi explains.
What you do at the polling station is up to you; but in a world where, every day, young people like us are fighting and dying for the same democratic freedoms that we take for granted, we cannot afford to sit and be silent.
The planet is falling precipitously apart and coming reluctantly together at the very same moment.
As the future leaders of tomorrow, it is time young people like ourselves realised our ability – and indeed our responsibility – to get engaged with politics; and then maybe we can bring the world together a little quicker than it’s falling apart.
These are the words of famous political writer, Benjamin Barber. He is right – the times we live in are strange and new. Some people say that it’s all been done before, and that every generation simply sits around looking back on ‘the good old days’ through rose-tinted glasses; but, for me, the world of today is definitely unique. Never before have people been so connected to one another – socially, culturally and economically.
The internet has created revolutionary platforms for the exchange of ideas, opinions and conversation; we exist on multiple planes of reality all at once; so while I am a citizen of Great Britain, I am also a citizen of Facebook, and I take mini-breaks in the Twittersphere as well. Here, your identity is not defined by your race, nationality or cultural background – instead, you are part of a borderless, online world that is increasingly as relevant as our own. So make no mistake: history is being played out before us. The problem is, too many of us are in the audience, and not enough are taking the stage.
The percentage of the viewing public that voted in last year’s X Factor final was greater than the percentage of the electorate that voted in the last general election. 16-25 year olds made up the biggest percentage of voters in the show’s final. In the general election, we made up the least. Can I really allow myself to believe that young people care more about Simon Cowell’s latest performing monkeys than about cuts to education?
The student protests of last year show that this isn’t true. What I believe is that more and more people, especially young people, feel disillusioned with the political system as a whole. Politics, and everything it entails, has become a dirty word. I can understand why, but we need to change this.
Growing up in a council estate in South East London from a young age, I didn’t care about politics or the way the world works. I didn’t see how it affected me. I just thought, things are the way they are, and that’s it. However, growing up, I started to move into different circles; I went from the council estate, to a grammar school, to one of best universities in the country; and that’s when you realise. Things don’t just happen to be a certain way – they are made that way; either through somebody’s actions – but mostly through our inaction. Studying politics I began to understand who has what, when and why.
‘Who run the world?’ Contrary to popular belief (thanks Beyonce), the answer to this question is not, in fact, ‘girls’. The problem is, no one really knows the answer. I know what the answer should be – ‘the people’ – but if more and more people are choosing to opt out of the democratic process, then how can this be the case? What we need to realise is that only through engagement with the democratic process can we affect legitimate change. You do not need to abstain from voting to show you’re pissed off – you can go to the polling booth and spoil your ballot paper instead for example. This way, you show those in power that you are not apathetic, while sending a strong message that you don’t believe in the system as it stands.
What you do at the polling station is up to you; but in a world where, every day, young people like us are fighting and dying for the same democratic freedoms that we take for granted, we cannot afford to sit and be silent. As the future leaders of tomorrow, it is time young people like ourselves realised our ability – and indeed our responsibility – to get engaged with politics; and then maybe we can bring the world together a little quicker than it’s falling apart.