It's gonna take a lot more than appearing on MTV and promotions on MySpace to get younger generations in politics. It's an unfortunate fact that Generation Y/The Millenials/The Internet Generation, or whatever you choose to call the 17-35 demographic, is not interested in government or politics. They're too busy focusing on themselves, achieving fame, and their social lives - both online and off - to care about who's running for the next election. "Gen Y has grown up on the idea of degraded celebrity where anybody can be exposed in the media," explains the Sidney Morning Herald. "Reality TV and YouTube can mean stardom is just a roll of the dice away."
Politicians aren't ready to ignore them, however, and are thinking of innovative ways to connect. Trend Hunter has featured politicians on Facebook before (see below), but leaders are ready to take the next step, as Sci-Tech Today reported.
"Lecterns are so 2004. In the latest chapter of new Web-empowered debates and interaction with presidential candidates, social networking site MySpace and MTV will bring together 2008 hopefuls and young voters for real-time online conversations. The announced front-running candidates of both parties will participate, each holding individual dialogues with voters. Voters can instant-message, e-mail or text their questions in real-time during the events, which will be webcast live on MTV.com and MySpaceTV.com."
"The discussions will be unfiltered to a degree. There will still be a moderator choosing the questions, aided by a group of political experts and an MTV News correspondent. About 100 to 200 students will be able to physically attend the discussions."
But is this going to change anything? It's great that they're trying to find innovative ways to connect with this generation, but will it be successful? "Despite the absence of live TV coverage, the potential audience is huge -- more than 40 million people visit MySpace each month," the LA Times reported.
At least they're honest about it.
"These talks may not make much difference in the long run," the Times said. "Thanks to the Web, cable TV, e-mail and various grass-roots techniques, candidates are able to speak to voters through an array of outlets, many of them better targeted at likely voters than MySpace and MTV. (Although the Internet has helped boost the turnout of young voters, they're still a comparatively small portion of those who cast primary ballots.) But no one knows yet which of these channels will be most effective, so candidates are game to experiment online -- if for no other reason than to not seem like Luddites. Besides, a good showing could drum up a few hundred more volunteers for a candidate's campaign."
What's in it for the voters?
"New-media showcases shift control away from the Beltway insiders and pundits who populate the traditional media's coverage of campaigns. Not many voters will be able to pose a question directly to a candidate through the My- Space events," wrote the Times. "But judging by the YouTube debate, the ones who do will ask a lot of questions that don't reflect the concerns and assumptions of the political establishment. Instead, they represent the hopes and fears of many in the emerging connected generation. With any luck, improving the questions will improve the answers too."
This generation doesn't care. It's self-absorbed. It's all about me, me, me. Once they start paying taxes and the tax man has half their earnings, they'll start to pay attention. What about the 25-35 year olds? They pay the moeny, but they don't pay attention to it. They get more in tune later on. So maybe that's all it is, a matter of time.