Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Why aren't young people actively engaged in a good cause?

Thomas Friedman, in his column in last week's NY Times (which I can now read thank-you-NY-Times!), talked about how young adults are not as politically active now as when he was a young adult. He says that an increasing number of young adults are engaged in online activism and questions how effective this online activism really is.

I have written before that I don't understand the lack of involvement in direct politics by young people. Many people in high school and college are deeply involved in many volunteer activities. What many college students don't realize, I found, is that they don't consider their volunteer work as political work.

I'm still trying to figure out how online activism fits in with how we observe and participate in the political system. I spend my entire day on the computer as do a lot of people I know. Thanks to my efficient Google Reader, I am able to stay up-to-the minute on my daily news and blogs. I do all of my business transactions online too; I pay all my bills and donate to causes all over the internet.

Just because young people are not out en masse protesting or hold sit-ins, does not mean they are not just as politically active. The problem I have found in my current work with the State Democratic Party is that the old-timers are afraid to use technology; but, like it or not, technology is the way of the future. Being online constantly also allows us to be voyeurs and and secret identities even. You are free to be anonymous and no one really cares! It's easy for people to be engaged online because no one knows who they are. It's harder to show up to an actual meeting or rally.

I think that young people, while they are not necessarily acting out on their inclinations, are becoming more knowledgeable about issues and using their online-centered world to increase awareness about these issues. Eventually, they act out on their knowledge and begin to do some good works. This sometimes doesn't happen until they have financial stability.

At least, this is my opinion.

It's hard for young people to find an issue/cause and really focus on it. Our world demands so much from people and when you're in college, you have very little free time. You have to choose how and when you communicate, play and live. But becoming engaged in causes--even if it's online--will only set in a young person's mind the need and importance of being active in causes, political and not.

I have a hard time understanding why people don't vote. I am so immersed in it that it's hard for me to be objective. I read the news and exclaim, "How can people not be enraged and engaged?!"

But then, I'm also and huge nerd.

Generation Q