Speaking to UN Youth on Politics + Media in 2020
January 7, 2020
Yesterday I was asked by the American Political Tour Deputy Convenor for the UN Youth to speak with young adults who are interested in politics and media and are touring the US to learn about the current state of both.
After about 45 minutes talking media and politics both in the United States and internationally, I fielded about an hour’s worth of some of the most well-considered questions from the audience. What I came to understand through what ended-up being a 2-hour-long conversation, was that the young generation coming up now are more than well-equipped to handle what will no doubt be a very difficult period in history. I must admit, at times I have my doubts about it when I see what goes viral among them. (Generational generalisations are almost always wrong, so that’s on me.)
There are certain things every generation has to deal with; wars, political in-fighting, racial and social injustice among a slew of other cyclical cultural and societal incidents.
I heard someone recently saying that the world now has an uneasy sense of ‘impending doom’ which was unique to our time, apropos of the Iranian air attacks last week. This feeling of impending doom is actually called Eschatology. It is not new- every generation has had it, and it has been around for thousands of years. (It’s also a symptom of PTSD.)
Though generations have had to deal with their own versions of the same things, no generation has had to deal with exponential increase in information that is being shared, stored and, at the same time, misconstrued to fit various bipartisan narratives.
No generation has ever had to deal with the numerous silos of information through which people are being informed.
There is no more consensus news, nor is news a loss-leader. The TV news —where most people still get their news— is a for-profit business, and it operates thusly; for eyeballs. Young, prospective journalists and political aspirants are going to have to figure out how to navigate the countless confirmation bias bubbles that have now calcified within American society. Sidenote: I’m aware there are similar things happening elsewhere, but I am only speaking of the current climate in the US, during an election year.
I don’t like to talk politics, particularly online, since it very quickly descends into pointless dribble, but I wanted to post here to admit I was incredibly impressed with the level of education of the young people I got to speak before. It was heartening in a week of soul-killing bad news coming out of Australia, Iraq and Iran.
There is hope for the future, yet!
Thank you to Amy Warren | UN American Political Tour Deputy Convenor for the invitation to speak.