Gen Y: Why we’ve ‘had it’ up to the headphones with Politics..

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I initially started out wanting to do an entry on why Gen Y were so disengaged from this election, then came the furor about Tony Abb-…Prime Minster Abbott’s Cabinet. I sent out a survey to some fellow Gen Y-ers, and got some fascinating responses; I have talked to many other people ofdifferent ages and professions, and every generation had a different experience.

I want to explore Gen –Y’s…

[I’ll get to the Cabinet in my next entry!]

Politicians needs to get genuine!
People become Vets because they love animals, they volunteer because they want to help the needy, they become accountants because they loved maths in high school because they had a hot teacher. People have different motivations. We don’t understand why you [politicians] chose the profession you did. I would love to see more career pollies – people, who are politicians as a career, weren’t lawyers or anything beforehand – people who went from the student council, to the local council to State or Federal Politics.

The Leader of the Opposition get $360 000 a year, the Prime Minister gets $510 000 as result of pay rises in July this year. Nearly a Million dollars a year between them to [un-] professionally debate each other. We don’t want to read your pre-written tweets or posts snarling and slinging mud at one another. 2013 was proof that mud-slinging and in-fighting isn’t forgivable in the eyes of the Australian people. Give us substance. Make us want to relate to you – like if we saw you at the pub, we’d say hello. But because no politician or party leader has explicitly engaged Gen Y, we’re not interested. Can you blame us? Tweeting your policies or selfies on Instagram [Kevin!] does not make you any more understandable to us, it’s just another outlet for you to generate your own policy-attacking hysteria. Same sh*t, different toilet.

Politicians just don’t care that we don’t really understand and Gen Y doesn’t care about lies or bullshit. There’s a paradox for you.

Politics, Voting and Political Parties don’t mean the same thing to everyone. Politicians are not respected any more, it is viewed as a narcissistic profession, we just “know of” politicians, and we never hear why they do what they do. They don’t emulate passion or a sense of community or social consciousness much. It’s all so, negative. It’s like watching two drunk people fighting, you can’t comprehend a sense of passion or determination from them – they’re fighting because the one who takes the most blows without falling first will win; you just know, watching them that it is not going to end well. No-one cheers for the person who knocks the other’s head to the pavement – someone always has blood on their hands, and some try wipe it straight off, and as witnesses, we’re left a little sick.

Our grandparents probably grew up respecting politicians when the World Wars happened. There was a sense of bi-partisanship, a want for the common good, to protect our country. Then our parents, the Baby Boomers and later, Gen X, grew up with the Korean/Vietnamese/ Gulf Wars and the protest generation came to be – politicians were trusted less. Turning points like the televising of parts of the Vietnamese conflicts, photos and recollections of the Holocaust, the Nuremberg trials, Mass deaths in Cambodia, China, Indonesia and East Timor under Dictators. With the rise of the media, the slow, aching spread of information it became evident that politicians would hurt their own people, through mass killings – or sending them to Wars. There was no difference any more to people.

The Watergate scandal thanks to Mr. Nixon had more of an effect that people like to realise. Nixon broke the law, was impeached, and was pardoned by his successor – thanks to Tricky Dick, the public saw that Politicians like to come across as our friendly neighbour, but they consider themselves above the law, above our rule of law or moral code.

There was more trust in politicians when we knew less about their them [personal lives].

Generation Y have grown up with two Wars [Iraq, Afghanistan], 9/11, Bali and London Bombings, Embassy Bombings, the Balkan Genocide, the Arab Spring and a major GFC. Non-palpable political issues mostly, not a particularly new. We have media and opinions coming out our ears, faster than we can read, a tsunami of information dissemination. EVERYBODY uses social media – friends, family, companies, MPs, news outlets. There was more trust in politicians when we knew less about them. Instead of discussing policy, the media reports stories of sexual harassment, explicit pictures sent, affairs had, nasty things said – all by and about Politicians. They’re not figure of respect any more, they’re put next to Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Lara Bingle in the papers sometimes. Heck, even those girls get stories PAGES ahead of policy.

Generation Y were so disengaged from this election because we are bleeding information and we’re getting bled on. Everyone is, Gen Y don’t know how to wade through it, nor does anyone else really. Authenticity is diminished.

When political advertising started, it just became part of the daily stream of information. It didn’t distinguish itself positively from anything else. Gen Y aren’t stimulated by negativity; we have enough dramas [albeit superficial] happening in our own lives. The negativity just compounds and we stop caring, we switch off and shut down. We are at an impressionable voting age – cynicism now with the ‘system’ can last for our whole lives. Politicians at the last election did not give [the non-politically motivated majority of] Gen Y anything to get happy about. All Abbott and Rudd did was attack each other. If I wanted to see two guys fight, I’d go to a nightclub. All the media outlets were calling, from day one: “Prime Minister Abbott” so our vote already felt worthless, we just had to wait four weeks – and in that time, voting became a chore. People didn’t care.

Everyone’s experiences of our political system are different.
Some have voted at 50 elections, some handed out fliers, some voted at their first election, some intentionally voted in an invalid way, some are influenced by the media, some write angry letters to the editor. What a healthy democracy! No guns were fired and nothing was rigged. Generation Y cannot be expected to look at a mandate and know what will affect them – and this disillusionment from the 2013 election will carry over into the next one. We feel like it doesn’t matter who we vote for, does it matter that we vote at all? There isn’t someone trying to seriously engage with us. Talking Youth Allowance doesn’t count guys.

Nor does logging on to Social Media. MILLIONS of people have Facebook/Twitter etc. Politicians haven’t done enough to use this personalised tool effectively. Shout out to Ed Husic [ALP] and Rob Oakeshott [Ind.] here, I’ve interacted with both of them on Twitter personally, when the “Round and Round” Video by Super Best Friends came out. I had a bit of a chat with Ed about the Basketball jerseys in his office, and had a laugh with Rob about him ironing his undies in the film clip. Also, Julie Bishop [my local MP] – I tweeted her after she appeared on “This Week Live” in the segment “I Hate You, Change My Mind” [watch it, she blindsided Tom Gleeson!] – and she thanked me. I might be old fashioned for a Gen Y –er but it’s nice when people thank you for something!

Social Media I love and hate…
Love it because it was so heartening to see people talking, but hate it because it has become a tool of hysteria; we hear of social media “exploding”. I love the freedom of expression, but I despair at the mindless, reasonless hate that can be spread so fast. The Monday after the election, this fan page had over 160k “likes”.

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I think it’s good excellent Gen Y-ers and people in general feel passionate about the election result, but ‘liking’ a page won’t uninstall Prime Minister Abbott. Join a union, join an NGO [non-government organisation] like Greenpeace, Get up! Etc. People power! This election was make or break for Gen Y. And we won’t know properly its effects until the next one in 2016/17. Don’t scoff at us, older generations, we’re learning like you did, but we didn’t have a Gough Whitlam “It’s Time” campaign.

Politicians on social media have kind of cheapened themselves, trying to connect with young people by making promises about issues we’re passionate about. Like Kevin Rudd promising marriage equality to get more votes, I support it, but Krudd commodified and politicised it; it’s a human rights issue, not a mandate issue. Forshame.

“What is to be done, PIK?”

The AEC [Australian Electoral Commission] can do so much more with the internet as a resource.

Firstly, their ads are good. But I’m exceptionally engaged with politics. The Gruen Nation did this great segment where they got two marketing agencies to create ads according to a specific topic. Some of them were seriously fantastic and the AEC should take a leaf.

Secondly, they are technically not a Government body, so their resources are limited. The internet is free, guys. And if you work hard at it enough, not just for 4-5 weeks every 4 years, you might see some change. I am very, very passionate about this issue. I want to help.

Thirdly, there is little understanding of how voting works, how to vote, what your preferences mean, what difference it make to vote above the line on the Senate paper. Only 25, 000 young people of voting age [18-24] registered to vote this year, out of 500,000. There is work to be done and the AEC cannot be complacent, it’s about education and I think it should start in late high school; a one off session or two explaining some basics. Because it could be years from when they turn 18 that young people actually vote.

Lastly, no politician will bite the hand that installs it. The voting system is unlikely to change, but with some understanding, people can really learn to kick ass when they vote; they should be excited about it! But they can always make their voices heard. Get angry, Gen Y!

I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing!

– PIK

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