I was having a chat the other day about the use of twitter by politicians. My immediate response is that generally it ends up in one of two ways.
Either a politician forgets that twitter is a public place and accidentally tweets something so racist/sexist/generally offensive that at the very least they have to issue a grovelling apology, or often the next time they trend is due to their resignation.
Or the politicians tweets have such an air of ‘trendy teacher’ about them that I curl into a ball with an expression normally only used by my teenager on occasions when I speak to her in front of her mates.
However during the conversation we were talking about the engagement of teenagers in politics, and how twitter could be a great way to include them. We need young people to embrace politics and want to be involved. I ownlive with a teenager. She is not short of an opinion. Neither are her friends. What they are short of is a feeling that politics is anything to do with them. They think politicians are cheats and liars and generally hold them in similar esteem to Piers Morgan and Jeremy Kyle.
When I was a teen politics was cool. The badges were cool, and the slogan t-shirts. And the trips to London for riots marches. I was vice-president of my student union, and politics were higher up our agenda than parties. Well, they were at least on an equal footing. We had loud, impassioned debates while drunk, and I definitely thought we could change the world. I still think we can. Pop stars had political views, comedians had political views. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to vote.
We need to engage the current crop of teenagers, and social media is inevitably going to play a huge part in that. Twitter is an incredible tool for getting messages across, and spreading information. We need people with more political and PR savvy than me to be grabbing attention with campaigns aimed at making sure young people know they have a voice, and know their vote is part of that.
The ‘Rock the Vote’ campaign made great strides in getting Americas youth involved. Perhaps something along those lines would help?
Nadine Dorries may be getting a lot of (deserved in my opinion) stick for being in the jungle. But- I bet in a few days an awful lot of teenagers will at least know who she is, and have an opinion on her. I am not suggesting we send all politicians to the jungle (although I might actually watch that), but we do need to find more interesting ways to present politics and its pedlars to a younger audience.
As long as its an informed choice- I don’t care which way young people vote, I just want them to! We need their passion, their ideas, their energy and their involvement. Politics needs to be inclusive. It isn’t just about posh blokes arguing in a grand building. Its about the jobs, education, health, and welfare of all of us. Its about life. Our lives. How do we want our country run? What should its priorities be? Should things be fairer? If you get involved, have your vote, have your say, you can be part of a change for the better.
Are you disenchanted with politics? Are your kids? How can we get both you and them interested again? What do you think would help?