A recent poll for The Guardian newspaper in the UK suggested that young adults in 2013 are what might be called ‘generation self’. The survey suggests that whilst young adults in 2013 may dip into the Occupy Movement or UK Uncut they are not motivated by the commitment to solidarity that characterised the activism of older generations.
Such a survey and The Guardian report that accompanies it depicts youth in 2013 as atomised – no sense of community or connection with other people in other places. This is not what I see and misrepresents the activism or young adults in 2013 and the nature of activism in a connected networked age. The lack of youth engagement in traditional communitarian or left of centre politics does not necessarily equate to disengagement of disconnection as the survey implies. The online activism of networks like Avaaz, the disparate challenge of the Occupy Movement and UK Uncut and the engagement of young adults in street-level politics in the shape of rap music and graffiti art gives the lie to the myth of ‘generation self’.
Perhaps the organisers of the survey and the journalists at The Guardian need to wake up to a new world rather than rehearsing assumptions from another century and a different age. Things really weren’t better in the 1980s when we [and I mean I!] marching during the miners strike, breaking down fences and occupying US Airbases or organising the ‘oppressed working class’….
‘Generation Self’? I don’t think so!