"All things are wearisome, more than one can say." - Ecclesiastes 1:8

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Engaging with the yoof

Can't say I often feel particularly sorry when things go wrong for the average politician - but there are exceptions and they usually have to do with watching someone having to spout a line that they can't possibly believe when they're put on the spot while the cameras are rolling.

For instance, felt for Blair that time when some demented harpie started haranguing him about the state of the NHS as experienced by her husband:

"Can you tell me why my husband has been kept waiting six hundred hours on a trolley while he's been waiting for his gonad operation?", she screeched - or something along those lines.

Blair must have been dying to say, "Of course I fucking don't, you daft bint - I'm not the manager of the goddamn hospital" - or something along those lines.

Another occasion was when a panel on Question Time were asked why the yoof were less inclined to vote than people whose hormones aren't giving them grief. They had to say, of course, that "we politicians aren't doing enough to relate to the concerns of young people". The usual guff...

I'd need to add this sort of thing to the long list of reason why I could never be a politician. For when I was I child, I thought as a child and I spake as a child. But when I became fully-grown, I put childish ways behind me and became exceeding grumpy, which brings me to this pile of narcissistic shite from Comment is Pants. The teenager* in question reckons politician could engage the 18-24 year olds through 'youth culture' - an oxymoron, if ever I heard one:
"Other organisations have tried a non-conformist approach and proved it works. In my role as street team coordinator and music editor of Ctrl.Alt.Shift, a global and social justice movement for 18- to 25-year-olds that uses popular culture to bring about engagement, I've seen first-hand how to empower a typically apathetic group of young people. A recent rave thrown to raise money for Haiti raised more than £10,000, with 3,000 clubbers signing up to the website to find out what else they could do to tackle poverty. And all because the likes of Ms Dynamite and Sway took to the mic and asked them to get involved.

That gets my vote."
One of the symptoms of our decline in civil engagement is the decline in all forms of collective participation going hand in hand with an increased participation in 'single-issue' campaigns. The situation described above chimes with my own experience with 'young people'. In our school the Haiti collection was actually a fucking disgrace. Why? Because unlike other fund-raising drives we've had, there was no fun activity the young people could associate bodies buried under rubble with. Charity begins with entertainment, y'see.

With the process being protracted these days, most 18-24 year olds are still going through adolescence - and adolescents are, for the most part, even more self-absorbed and ego-centric than the rest of us. They're also usually very tired - and so come out with things like, "Politicians - they're all the same". Because they're too fatigued to find out the differences.

Also, 18-24 year olds have not yet, for the most part, accumulated the concerns that the rest of us have as we've stumbled trough life - so rates of tax, the state of the school system, what interest rates are - don't concern as many of them.

If I were a politician, I'd respond to the suggestion that politicians should engage with 'youth culture' with withering contempt. You can't 'change things' by voting, or make 'your voice heard'. It's just something that forms a small and infrequent part of your civic duty. If you can't even be bothered to vote if only to show that you prefer flawed representative democracy to brutal dictatorship then I for one am not interested in making the least effort to 'engage with your culture'. Instead I would like to cordially invite you to take your vote and shove it up your arse, you imploding bag of poisonous self-pity - I actually don't really give a fuck if you vote or not. Yoof - why all this concern about a group of people who are only, by definition, in a passing condition? This is why I could never go into politics...

*Scoiologically speaking. Regardless of chronological age, the author of that piece is a teenager.
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