Today, technology and especially the internet is something that is indispensable to the young. From online forums, school portals to email communication, the internet is a tool that is consistently and expertly harnessed by youths. This brings us to the question of how politics can stay relevant to the young in the era of this new media.
For once, the internet makes it easier for the young to express their ideas, views and opinions. It’s easy to handle, is not dependent on time and venue and thus makes it very enticing as a tool for political expression. In a generation which was brought up imbued with the concept of efficiency and effectiveness, the internet is the perfect platform from which the young can come into contact with politics. Moreover, the internet allows for and facilitates discussions and the exchanging of ideas among interested parties. This is done through Internet forums and school portals.
In this case, shouldn’t the internet be aggressively manipulated by political parties to reach out to youths? Personally, I feel that such a view is too superficial and inadequate.Though forums and online portals make it easier for the exchanging of views among youths, it must be noted that such tools are unable to reach out to apathetic and disinterested parties.
People who are interested in music will visit forums which discuss music and entertainment. Sports lovers will frequent forums, or even blogs with a sporting outlook and content. Likewise for politics, only youths who are interested in politics would bother to explore political forums, portals or even blogs online. In this sense, the internet thus poses an obstacle for political parties like the Workers’ Party to reach out to politically disinterested youths. Fundamentally, the Internet does not solve the problem of raising political awareness among youths in general.
The Internet also leads to a false perception among the youths that they are contributing to their country by expressing their views and ideas online.
To put it in another way, the Internet creates a façade that their ideas and views are being heard and considered by policymakers. For instance, i-speak, a blog by a 17-year-old college girl, Gayle Goh, who frequents events and talk-shows organised by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, is capturing a lot of media attention and publicity. Such blogs tend to reinforce the mindset among youths that the Internet is a feasible and convenient tool through which youths can voice their suggestions to the country and government.Personally, from my experiences of political activism, I realise that nothing beats a face-to-face engagement with the public, which allows one to get a feel of the problems and circumstances afflicting Singaporeans in general.
On the ground is where you get the most exposure to youths, as you listen to the comments and opinions expressed by them. This gives you an inkling of what exactly are their thinking and mindset. Only then can you propose effective and creative ideas and suggestions to reach out to these youths.
It’s through being a part of a credible political party like the Workers’ Party, that experiences on the ground can be translated into youthful and creative ideas which will be heard and, most importantly, implemented. A political party in this context provides countless avenues – such as forums or dialogue sessions – for concrete, feasible and creative ideas to be pondered, discussed and introduced.
The youth wing of the Workers’ Party creates countless opportunities for youths to constantly interact with like-minded people, fostering the inception of various initiatives and ideas. Being in a youth wing allows for a pro-youth stance without asserting the main political stance of the mother party. This puts aside the formalities and practices prevalent in a political party, thereby encouraging the development of ideas and opinions crucial to assisting and raising political awareness among the youths in Singapore.In conclusion, the Internet is a viable tool for political communication and dialogue and it is a fundamental step in bringing youths from political obscurity into the political domain. However, this must be further complemented by active political participation in credible political parties or their youth wings. Such participation enhances and amplifies an individual’s little voice, lending credibility to his or her ideas. Most importantly, participation in a political party or its youth wing is the perfect launch pad for your ideas to take root and flourish.