Thursday, October 26, 2006

Engaging those 20 Something in Advocacy

One of the chapters of the book I'm writing (E-scapism: We're Not Tuning Out, We're Plugging in) focuses on the relationship between e-scapism and citizen advocacy. And wouldn't you know it, but USA Today did an article on how the 20-somethings (variously known as Generation Y, the Echo Boomers and the Millenials) have been powered by the Internet to become involved in the world around them. The catch is that they're involved in non-traditional ways. Rather than doing boring things like, oh, voting, they might instead start an online petition or join an virtual community of concerned citizens.

Unfortunately, because our current measures of "political involvement" focus on very traditional ideas (being an active member of a political party, signing a paper petition, joining a boycott, etc.), we are inclined to think that the Millenials are disengaged. In fact, they aren't necessarily "disengaged." They're just "differently engaged." Where they are turned off by the negativity of traditional politics, they might be turned on by a social consciousness that is more broadly focused on helping the poor or bettering the environment.

So next time you think to yourself -- gee, those young people just don't care -- be careful. They may care more than you think. They're just expressing it in a new way.

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