Generation Y(awn)

Spruiking her credentials as someone who is in touch with the hip, the now and the youth of today (unlike me), Sydney University media and communications lecturer Kate Crawford has told us to stop believing the stereotype that today’s kiddies aren’t political.

Sure they don’t join political parties or unions and don’t vote in any appreciable pattern, but that doesn’t make them apolitical.

As the sociologist Ulrich Beck notes, people are “involved more than ever before in a wide range of activities that precisely criticise and challenge institutions and elites”. There are community campaigns, global boycotts and countless forms of media activism.

And because Crawford is a bleeding edge media commentator who is a week and a half ahead of the latest trends, she bangs on about blogs being the paramount of non-traditional political activism.

Blogs thrive and multiply, as people engage with social questions, thrash out their opinions and give their two cents on the political issues of the day. This is mass participation in public debate, a social experiment where people can talk back to politicians and media pundits without having to wait patiently on Alan Jones’s switchboard. Even those online forums that avoid any connection with formal politics are part of a major shift in how we can communicate and interact with our community.

No, they’re not, Kate. Blogs are old news and over-hyped. ‘Blogs are the future of media/politics’ is just as much a boring and inaccurate stereotype as ‘gen-Xers are slackers’. As Charlie Brooker put it in a recent column in the Guardian:

Still, at least the teenage MySpacers are getting on with the business of being young and alive, unlike the fustier elements of the “blogosphere”, who just waste the world’s time banging on and on about how important the “blogosphere” is and how it spells the end of every old notion ever, when the truth is that, as with absolutely every form of media ever, 99% of the “blogosphere” is rubbish created by idiots.

Blogs are, in other words, almost never anything more than an opportunity for pompous idiots like me to pontificate about whatever they feel like without being punched in the mouth. By the time anyone in the mainstream media (or academia) noticed blogs, they had already been co-opted by corporate marketroids and turned into productivity-enhancing business solutions. Mmm, subversive.

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