It’s pathetic to label young people apathetic
Any young person worth their salt should seek to change the system
As far as I can tell, politicians as a class have no interest in engaging with young people. Why would they? It’s a chicken-and-egg scenario. Young people “don’t vote”, we’re told, so why push for youth issues? And when there’s no engagement with young people, why would they be bothered to vote for a bunch of people who ignore them?
Many young people have already spoken with their feet, flipping Ireland the bird and getting out of here. That’s not apathy, that’s action born from frustration, lack of opportunity, or simple exploration of the world.
The media, as part of that old establishment, is just as guilty of marginalising and dismissing young voices. Someone under 40 is rarely a panellist on a current affairs show, a guest on Marian Finucane, an opinion columnist in a newspaper or a presenter of a news programme. Irish media, like its politics, is made up of and therefore talks to the middle-aged and over, and the middle-class and over.
The status quo is alien to Ireland’s youth. Much of Ireland’s social structures are foreign countries to young people, who are better educated, more progressive, more worldly, more tolerant and more savvy than the bumbling establishment who thought it was smart to spend a decade buying houses from each other and calling that “rich”.
Trappings of the past
You can keep the trappings of the past, the Porsche Cayennes and the Sacred Hearts. Young people don’t want them. They see through them. While those who were busted by the boom or are willing it to return deny themselves perspective, young people look at the carry-on of then and now and wonder what on Earth is going on. They might wonder if their parents could survive on a JobBridge scheme or like to see their local representative queue for an apartment viewing 30 people deep.
Their grandparents might wonder how their grandkids would deal with walking to school barefoot or struggling to put food on the table. We all struggle. But very few people don’t actually care. Young people are not apathetic – they’re dismissive of the recycled establishment bull just as much as people of all ages are. They are building their own lives, their own systems, their own communities, their own alternatives.
Any young person worth their salt should not seek to be part of the system, but to pull it down and change it. So don’t you dare call this generation apathetic. Just give them a break, and see what they can do with a bit of encouragement.