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Daniel Alexandre Portoraro

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Gen Y Politically Engaged? #GiveMeABreak

Posted: 12/06/2012 8:09 am

Alright, everyone, pull back on the reins: Generation Y has formed a circlejer...nevermind.

This generation is politically engaged, argues Supriya Dwivedi, characterizing this by the claim: that we are "Constantly connected to Twitter and updating our newsfeeds."

Wait a minute, that's what it means to be politically engaged? Being on Twitter? Watching that digital tickertape, not of news, but of the very types of soundbites we seek to criticize, and mock every chance we get when it's one of the talking heads on TV who make them?

Dwivedi says "updating our newsfeeds." But updating our newsfeeds with what, exactly? Some Jezebel article where the word "fucking" is only outpaced by the word "the" and passing that off as feminism? Or is Dwivedi referring to being politically engaged in the form of creating Tumblrs once someone like Romney makes a non-comment such as "binders full of women"?

Maybe she is speaking of forcing our politicians to use social media to communicate with us? Surely, she is not referring to that much-publicized night when President Obama -- you know, leader of the free world and all that -- performed an Ask Me Anything on Reddit, only to be flooded with questions such as, "Mr. President, would you rather fight a hundred duck-sized horses, or one horse-sized duck?" An interesting thought experiment to be sure, but I hear the man's quite busy, oughtn't people be asking him something more relevant?

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe when Dwivedi says we are politically engaged, what she means to say is we turn presidential debates into drinking games, then complain that there weren't any "one-liners" or "zingers," even though we ramble on incessantly about how the media has destroyed any semblance of actual political discourse.

Get off it; this generation is no more "politically engaged" than any other before it. We simply give off the appearance of being so, by "sharing" and "publishing" articles from the New Yorker, Harper's, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy -- look at me, this is what I read! Aren't I an intellectual treat? We have more channels through which to voice our opinions; that doesn't mean our opinions are any more valid.

We've mistaken being politically opinionated for being politically engaged. An opinion doesn't mean a thing -- unless, of course, you're part of that dying field called punditry -- but a vote does. But young people aren't voting. Then again, I suppose it's a lot more interesting to refuse to vote and tweet about it, than to go to the polling booths and pick, to alter Churchill, "the least bad option."

"But why vote?" we, the Millennials, chime, "There's no one who reflects 100 per cent my God-given beliefs which are wholly sacred and not open to compromise."

Well, what beliefs are those? Are they merely the tired shopping list of abortion, gay marriage and global warming, which Dwivedi seems to stop at in her blog? Or do they also include the yawn issues of balancing the budget, taxation, and military funding which are sure to dull the senses of any cocktail party-goer? You know the type of stories I'm talking about; the ones that matter and then disappear from the front page once Kate Middleton makes the world-changing-oh-my-God announcement that she's pregnant.

But even if the Millennials saw the economy as meaning something other than jobs in the fields of their choosing, how could there possibly be a politician that reflects all of our values? How can there be a perfect political prince charming in this age of obscure, criss-crossing, contradictory "isms" which seemed to have been developed so that we always have something to take offense to? It says a lot about this generation that they fawn over that poor man's Captain Morgan, Justin Trudeau because he wears jeans and talks about Facebook.

We are not politically engaged. We are politically opinionated. But opinions, however well informed, are not a substitute for the democratic voting process. And the democratic process is by no means perfection; it's a game of compromise. The sooner we learn that, and the sooner that we stop pretending that 140-character messages makes us politically engaged -- as attending party conferences, and going to the voting booth do -- the better off our generation will be.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Think you know your generation?

    The Huffington Post Canada and Abacus Data surveyed 1,004 Canadian millennials from across the country on a variety of issues. Here's what we found:

  • Biggest challenges?

    We asked 1,004 Canadian millennials to rank the biggest challenges facing their generation.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    2% rank the decriminalization of marijuana as No. 1 or 2.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    5% of millennials rank internet regulation and online privacy as one of their top two issues.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    7% rank bullying as the first or second biggest challenge.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    8% of millennials rank retirement security No. 1 or 2.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    11% of millennials say access to quality health care is one of the generation's top two challenges

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    20% of millennials rank pollution and environmental protection as No. 1 or 2 of the biggest challenges faced by this generation.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    20% say affordable housing is in the top two.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    24% of millennials peg the cost of education as their first or second choice for the generation's biggest challenge.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    27% say the cost of food, gas and consumer goods are in the top two.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    32% of millennials chose "student debt and personal debt" as the first or second biggest challenge.

  • What defines a good citizen?

    We asked 1,004 millennials between the ages of 18-30 what it takes to be a good Canadian citizen.

  • What defines a good citizen?

    15% of millennials say it takes being active in political parties...

  • What defines a good citizen?

    28% of millennials say donating money to charity makes a good citizen..

  • What defines a good citizen?

    35% of millennials say that being active in social organizations is important to citizenship..

  • What defines a good citizen?

    63% of millennials say being informed about current events is important..

  • What defines a good citizen?

    64% of millennials say being able to fluently speak one official language is important..

  • What defines a good citizen?

    74% of millennials say a good citizen is someone who always votes in elections.

  • What defines a good citizen?

    81% of millennials say good citizens honestly pay their taxes.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    43% of millennials rank the availability of quality jobs as their first or second choice.

  • Health Challenges

    We asked 1,004 Canadian millennials what were their generation's biggest health challenges

  • Biggest health challenge facing your generation?

    3% say pollution

  • Biggest health challenge facing your generation?

    4% say sexually transmitted infections

  • Biggest health challenge facing your generation?

    7% say disease

  • Biggest health challenge facing your generation?

    11% say poor nutrition

  • Biggest health challenge facing your generation?

    16% say obesity

  • Biggest health challenge facing your generation?

    17% say addiction

  • Biggest health challenge facing your generation?

    19% say mental health

  • Biggest health challenge facing your generation?

    26% say lack of physical activity

  • Relationship status

    Some views from 1,004 Canadian millennials on marriage and family..

  • Relationship status

    18% of millennials are in a common law relationship

  • Relationship status

    66% of millennials are single

  • Relationship status

    15% of millennials are married

  • Do you ever want to get married?

    63% of unmarried millennials say <strong>yes</strong> 13% say <strong>no</strong> 24% say they are <strong>unsure</strong>

  • Do you ever want to get married?

    65% of <strong>unmarried women</strong> say <strong>yes</strong> 13% say <strong>no</strong> 22% say they are <strong>unsure</strong>

  • Do you ever want to get married?

    61% of <strong>unmarried men</strong> say <strong>yes</strong> 13% say <strong>no</strong> 26% say they are <strong>unsure</strong>

  • Is marriage an outdated institution?

    33% agree 67% disagree

  • Do you have children?

    12% of millennials surveyed have children 88% do not

  • Do you want to have children at some point?

    64% of millennials say yes 12% say no 24% are unsure

  • More On Millennials

    Huffington Post Canada's series on millennials, Asking Y. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/generation-y" target=blank>Visit it here</a>.

-- Abacus Data has focused research on the Canadian Millennial. Read more here.

What do you think about this story? Join the conversation below or tweet us @HuffPostCanada with the #AskingY tag. We may feature your comments in an upcoming post. You can also check out our Tumblr, or our dedicated page for more from the Asking Y series.
 

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