I want to know: do we millennials think that our future will be determined more by technology or by the government? To what extent do we expect the government to influence our future?
I offer these two options since the general debate tends to be: young people are relatively engaged in political affairs (I mean it does affect us!) but are not engaged enough to be involved. Rather, we are more engaged with technological devices. So they say. This is true to some extent. However, personally, I find that we don’t necessarily engage with technology but through it. And through technology, there are many issues that take precedent over others – politics not being at the forefront. We appreciate technology for what it does: it gives us a voice. Around 86% of millennials think that “having my voice heard” is fundamental to living a good life. And 87% care about the well-being of society in general. So what’s going on here? Why the supposed apathy? If millennials care about society, then why don’t they do anything? I’ll tell you why. We do. Every day, we do. When we tweet support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, when we share a meme, when we get involved in the special Snapchat story of the day; in all these actions, we do something about what we care about – we get our voice heard. And it is not in the ‘conventional’ sense. But we do not live in conventional times.
Like many other millennials, I believe that the current system is not built for us. We are not apathetic. Rather, we are discouraged from being involved. Indirectly so. Voting, for example, could be made a lot more accessible to the public, especially to the millennials. Namely, online voting. And this is something for which can be catered. Of those British millennials who are not at all that interested in politics, nearly half would be more likely to vote if they could do it online. Some millennials are lazy. Yes. But implementing changes such as online voting is significant not only for its practicality but also for what it symbolises; that is, a step towards committing to hear the voice of young people.
However, even if more young people engage in voting, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we expect the government (I use this term very broadly) to influence our future. In simple terms, yes. We vote for certain policies that are more favourable to our way of living. However, the essence of online voting relies on technology. And technology relies on innovation. We appeal to this notion of innovation here; the innovation of online voting is to connect young people, to make participation more accessible. It is tailored to our way of living. Whilst we should continue to persuade governments to implement this process, I believe we can be certain that it will happen. Because governments must adapt to the progression of technology. Technology moves forward while governments find ways to utilise it. In a way, this means that millennials don’t necessarily expect the government to influence our future. We expect it to have some influence, but a great deal of the influence is to come from technology. 87% of Canadian millennials believe that the most influential factor in our future will be new developments in technology and connected devices. Technology plays a fundamental role in a millennial’s life and, where possible, the government tries to tap into that.
A light-hearted example is Hilary Clinton’s comments about taking Pokémon Go to the voting polls. This appeals to a specific segment of society, indeed. And I don’t know the voting impact of this. But for me, that is not the point. The point is what this represents; the importance of millennials becoming publically and unashamedly recognised. We are innovative. We are resourceful. We have bloomed in a time that is like no other. And we use technology to help us channel these attributes to make something of ourselves. And to make something of government. Just look at campaigns organised by young people that have such an immense impact. The Black Lives Matter movement being one of them. Racial inequality didn’t just emerge during my generation. But it seeped into it and it affects every single person of colour around the world, millennial or not. The BLM movement has really nuanced my own perception of my place in this world as a Sudanese, Muslim female. The extent of mobilisation and global range this campaign has had is phenomenal. This is my generation, borne out of a technology-driven world. We find ways to use the tools of this world to connect one another, the very nature of technology. And I believe, in many ways, that is the nature of the millennials – to connect.
So, do millennials think that our future will be determined more by technology or by the government? At first, I thought “technology” for sure. But now I’m not so sure. I believe that our future is determined more by us. As with every generation, the power to progression and change is within the masses. But this mass, the millennials, we’re different. We are the largest living generation on Earth, surpassing the Baby Boomers in numbers. Through technology and social media, we are able to connect. But we are also disconnected by the ideals of government that do not encompass our genuine concerns. This is slowly changing. This is partly because governments are having to publicly appeal to us. But through and through, we are taking control. Innovating. Changing. Connecting. Because this is the nature of the millennials.