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