Are young Americans (18-27) completely apathetic about political/social issues?
Yes
36.8% (14)
36.8% (14)
No
18.4% (7)
18.4% (7)
A little
21.1% (8)
21.1% (8)
50/50
21.1% (8)
21.1% (8)
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Poll: Young Americans (millenials) largely apathetic despite wallstreet movement?

I won't type out an entire essay on this topic, but after talking to a lot of friends, peers, and the general opinion of the young "mainstream" I feel that young Americans are largely politically apathetic.

Case in point: My discussion with a friend over the passing of the 2012 NDAA which allows the government/military to detain "terrorist suspects" (indefinitely if they see it fit) without evidence, legal representation, or trial. This now includes US citizens, essentially the Bush Era "Patriot Act I-II" on steroids-

Friend: "Oh...well I googled it and the wikipedia link says it isn't that bad"

Me:"Did you even read the info, the links provided bellow the article about what's got people so upset?"

Friend: "No, but when it got to 'only arrests terrorist' I realized it doesn't concern me"

Me:..... really?

Apparently SOPA upsets him because his torrent sites would be in danger, but unless the CIA is waterboarding him personally he couldn't care less.

This isn't one 'derpy' friend, this seems to be like 60-70% of the younger US population that I've openly discussed this issue with.

I'm convinced that not only does my generation not care (aside from a politically active,educated minority of all political stripes which does give me some hope) but even in the face of their own freedoms being threatened or injustices being perpetrated by their government for the past 50+ years (here or abroad) means absolutely nothing.

Am I just too cynical fellow Escapist?

Also, I'm not suggesting more Americans jump into the polarizing, partisan bickering along party/ideological lines (conservative/liberal, republican/democrat) which does little for progressive change or democratic involvement by citizens.

Your thoughtful opinions are most appreciated regardless of where you stand.

Johanthemonster666:
I won't type out an entire essay on this topic, but after talking to a lot of friends, peers, and the general opinion of the young "mainstream" I feel that young Americans are largely politically apathetic.

Case in point: My discussion with a friend over the passing of the 2012 NDAA which allows the government/military to detain "terrorist suspects" (indefinitely if they see it fit) without evidence, legal representation, or trial. This now includes US citizens, essentially the Bush Era "Patriot Act I-II" on steroids-

Friend: "Oh...well I googled it and the wikipedia link says it isn't that bad"

Me:"Did you even read the info, the links provided bellow the article about what's got people so upset?"

Friend: "No, but when it got to 'only arrests terrorist' I realized it doesn't concern me"

Me:..... really?

Apparently SOPA upsets him because his torrent sites would be in danger, but unless the CIA is waterboarding him personally he could care less.

This isn't one 'derpy' friend, this seems to be like 60-70% of the younger US population that I've openly discussed this issue with.

I'm convinced that not only does my generation not care (aside from a politically active,educated minority of all political stripes which does give me some hope) but even in the face of their own freedoms being threatened or injustices being perpetrated by their government for the past 50+ years (here or abroad) means absolutely nothing.

Am I just too cynical fellow Escapist?

Also, I'm not suggesting more Americans jump into the polarizing, partisan bickering along party/ideological lines (conservative/liberal, republican/democrat) which does little for progressive change or democratic involvement by citizens.

Your thoughtful opinions are most appreciated regardless of where you stand.

Perhaps this is biased due to my being a member of that small minority, but I completely agree. The problem, as I see it, our generation is treated/brought up to think that a) they are special b) that they are entitled to whatever they want and c) if it doesnt effect you directly then dont worry about it. As you mentioned with your one friend, the only reason he cares about SOPA is because of the direct effect on his pleasure. I see it myself among the young people who work at Burger King with me: unless it effects them directly, they cant be bothered with it. This isnt cynicism its simply acknowledging the reality we find ourselves in.

Among my friends, I have discovered that most of them aren't politically active because they realize how utterly pointless American politics really are.It doesn't matter who you vote for, it's just going to be another corporate shill who will sell you out the second they take office. It's not that they don't care, they just don't see how anything they say or do will matter because they're just going to be told to shut up and stop being dumb, entitled kids and do what the grown-ups tell them. I'd say that our entire generation is just too jaded at this point to care much about politics.

I don't think it is a generation thing, I think it is an American thing. A lot of Americans in general do not seem to have a problem with something until it effects them. The Republicans essentially run on the platform of "not my problem".

Think about it, every other developed nation has Universal Healthcare, most have had it for several decades. The US cannot even get close, Obama tries to put it in and you have massive resistance to the point where he has to compromise and even then every single Republican ran state files a law suit against it claiming it is unconstitutional. So not only is the US the only developed country without UHC, you have an entire political party that is essentially arguing that it is illegal.

pyrate:
I don't think it is a generation thing, I think it is an American thing. A lot of Americans in general do not seem to have a problem with something until it effects them. The Republicans essentially run on the platform of "not my problem".

I don't think it is an American thing, I think it is a human thing. Those of us who are interested in politics will always be surprised to meet the massive amount of people that doesn't care one bit. Most people feel that they have more pressing concerns to worry about then politics, whatever it is the mortgage on their house, their babies pneumonia, how to hook up with that hot chick/dude in spanish class, getting a job etc.. In the end, the problem with representative democracy is that a majority of the people will feel as if their contributions or opinions doesn't really matter because "the people in charge" will still make decisions as they see fit.

Personally, I think I'd be much happier if I could just embrace that attitude of "Meh, I can't do anything about it anyway".

It's very much a generation thing. Young people have very little say in politics, sheerly because of the vast number of baby-boomers & old people around is entirely disproportionate to what a political system would typically have looked like in history. Added to that the fact that youth employment is much worse than regular employment in most developed countries around the world (something like 50% in Greece/Italy), then yes you're going to see a lot of apathy, because the truth is not a lot can actually be done.

all ive got from this thread is that americans still do not get that it is "i couldn't care less" not " i could care less"

reonhato:
all ive got from this thread is that americans still do not get that it is "i couldn't care less" not " i could care less"

All I got from your post is that you still don't know how to capitalise.

OT: I'm not sure it's entirely an American phenom.. a lot of people in Australia that I've spoken to don't give a shit either. It may be a *youth-in-general* thing, but then I notice a lot of youth that DO care about this sort of stuff, so... -shrug-.

Without googling "statistics of youth that care about politics" I guess I'm out of things to say.

Bromion:
Among my friends, I have discovered that most of them aren't politically active because they realize how utterly pointless American politics really are.It doesn't matter who you vote for, it's just going to be another corporate shill who will sell you out the second they take office. It's not that they don't care, they just don't see how anything they say or do will matter because they're just going to be told to shut up and stop being dumb, entitled kids and do what the grown-ups tell them. I'd say that our entire generation is just too jaded at this point to care much about politics.

This

I'm 21, own guns, have a full-time job, attend college full-time, and am considering buying a house once my apartment lease is up and my truck is paid off. I give one, maybe two shits about politics because the more I learn, the more I feel like it's a choice between which liar/asshat/douchebag I want in office, and voting would mean that I actually endorse one of those sons of bitches. Sure, I've got the better part of a year to learn more before elections, but it really does feel like it doesn't matter.

It really is totally unsuprising that young people in America are apathetic, every politician is either corrupt, a puppet, or just plain crazy. Shit just keeps getting worse despite massive opposition (NDAA, SOPA), unless you have money you're flat out ignored by politicians, so I can completely understand just not wanting to bother anymore.

That and American consumerism does promote ignorance and apathy towards politics, "that doesn't matter, look shiney objects!"

What does the billboard say
Come and play, come and play
Forget about the movement

Freedom - Rage Against the Machine

First, About the NDAA, I just want to say there is an amendment that basically keeps American Citizens from being held indefinitely that was added to it. Therefor, American citizens are basically safe.

About your topic, well yes, American kids are pretty much Jaded, but not all of them are. The problem is though, they are essentially right: Corporations basically do help pick which jerk gets what political position. Obviously, there needs to be an overhaul, but right now, no one wants an overhaul because they've either stopped caring or they don't think the time for an overhaul is needed. It's gonna take something serious to fix the system: Abraham Lincoln was elected because the Issue of Slavery was at it's breaking point (And then Broke when he was Elected); Teddy Roosevelt, William Taft and Woodrow Wilson were elected because work was absolutely terrible and WWI was coming around, and Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected because of the Great Depression and WWII. We need something like those things to fix our current problems, but right now, we are no where near a serious issue to be needing fixed to elect a super president.

You are right, most young americans don't give a shit about politics. There's a reason for that though.

SOPA. It's largely self contained in the government who isn't listening to the citizens about whether they like it or not. What public approval it does have is from massive corperations who have millions of dollars to throw at it that no one citizen could possibly hope to touch. One of many bills of the same nature, all of them that directly affect the people, but which the people can do nothing about.

Then there's the politicians. Every politician runs on certain campaign promises, and then once in office breaks those promises because there's no reason not to. Politicians are untouchable by the public, they can choose to simply ignore phone calls, letters, and emails, and they live in places far away from face to face contact. So they are free to pursue their own interests.

Americans in general are disinterested in politics because they don't affect it anymore. From petitions that are ignored to elections that many including myself believe to be rigged the entire political system is one large clusterfuck of oppression designed to serve itself at the expense of its citizens.

This was pretty much the same when I was young many years ago. Part of growing up is learning how to judge what affects you in the world. It's kind of sad that many young people think a brand of clothing or a celebrity affects them more than the laws of the land, but there you go.

But before anyone sneers too strongly at young people today, the people described in the OP are only one endpoint extreme of a spectrum. At the other extreme you have people who are overly interested in politics, who talk about US citizens being rounded up as terrorists and potential military conflicts with Iran or North Korea or the tyrant du jour with a kind of nervous anticipation- even if they might personally oppose warfare with those countries, they have this odd twinge to their voice that says even so they want to see it happen for the sake of being able to live in interesting times.

Obviously being in the middle is the better choice, but I think if I had to choose between the two extremes I think the apathetic choice would be more healthy- at least for one's blood pressure.

Johanthemonster666:
-snip-

I am of the generation you speak of, and to be perfectly honest, not much has happened to us that has really changed the status quo. We had 9/11, but I was only 10 years old when it happened so I only have a vague recollection of when it happened. And when it happened I certainly didn't realize how serious it was until later when people wouldn't stop talking about it.

The Internet has been a sure thing ever since I was old enough to be on the computer, and the same can be said of pretty much everyone else my age. And even though OWS is quite populated with other young adults our age, that is only in certain urban places where people are concentrated and networked enough to know about it, or have grievances to voice. Here in Missouri, we really don't have much to complain about. My town has a small OWS group of 8, and even they are pretty useless. All they've done is protest a local millionaire/philanthropist who's donated millions to the university, and they staged their protest on private property just so they could get arrested, get in the school paper, and whine about how it's such a crime against free speech.

Honestly, unless you're there where the bigger protests are being staged, OWS isn't a very big deal. I'm fairly certain a good portion of the people on my university hardly know what it is. They might know the name, but they don't know what it's about.

As for politics, again, political efficacy isn't exactly very high in this age group. We've got our own problems--school, relationships, figuring out what we want to do with our lives. We're just getting used to life away from our parents, and most of us haven't really had time and patience to sit down and worry about local politics. And, again, we haven't exactly had any earth-shattering historical events which have made this process any more urgent to complete.

As for SOPA, it's sort of the same situation at occupy. You really have to be in a circle that's keenly interested in that sort of thing to know about it. The networks and circles information about SOPA is circulating in are very inwardly-focused. The kind of people who worry about the state of the Internet don't usually converse and share their problems with the kind of people who don't worry about those same things. It's like a person who loves planes trying to convince people how bad it is that a certain model of jet is going out of production. Their enthusiasm doesn't carry over because the other people just don't see how it relates to them. And even though SOPA can and will affect them if passed, it's very hard to explain it in a way to make them understand that. It's just foreign to them.

Plus, as nothing this severe has ever happend to the Internet as we know it before, I think there's also a sense of indestructibility. We've never seen the Internet brought down or made vulnerable, so many are just in a state of denial that it could ever happen at all. This is just how people are--it's been such a sure thing for so long, and we've seen so many other threats come and go with ease, that it's easy to just revert to that same state of denial. Many people see the Internet as so many others saw the Titanic--unsinkable. It's sad, but again, that's just how people work. Until something happens at least once, it's very hard to convince them the threat is worth paying attention to.

I am 24 and I have found myself very cynical about politics. I am also cynical towards all these nutty college kids out there talking about stuff that they know nothing about.

Well I'm British and I see the same thing with my friends, and have done for years; while i like keeping an eye on current events my friends couldn't give a crap and only vote on one or two headline issues.

I think you're right and it's just a case of "doesn't affect me, doesn't matter" mentality that is almost pandemic of our generation, and it's not just confined to politics. In school we often got told that we wouldn't be tested on something and so we didn't get taught it. Same principle, if we don't need to know, we don't want to know.

Bromion:
Among my friends, I have discovered that most of them aren't politically active because they realize how utterly pointless American politics really are.It doesn't matter who you vote for, it's just going to be another corporate shill who will sell you out the second they take office. It's not that they don't care, they just don't see how anything they say or do will matter because they're just going to be told to shut up and stop being dumb, entitled kids and do what the grown-ups tell them. I'd say that our entire generation is just too jaded at this point to care much about politics.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

- Possibly Edmund Burke, maybe not.

There seems to be an element of that. There's all sorts of reasons not to like OWS, but one seemingly common reason was that activism is for losers, they should all go get a life.

Many of the people thinking this might be angry at Wall Street, but still condemning anyone who wants to do anything about it.

Well, obviously there's at least two explanations for this that don't involve the actual mindset of centenials:

-American culture is strongly conformistic. It leads people to inherently care less about issues that would make political topic elsewhere. For instance that the bitter poverty of many in the US hasn't lead to a radical revision of taxation and social policies is astounding to many outside the US.
-Young people are in a phase of their lives where they are very busy building their lives. They get into relationships, some for a longer period of time, graduate educations, find their first jobs and try to make a career. This leaves little time for politics, and because their financial means are generally smaller than those of old people, there's also an obstacle in terms of costs. Quite frankly, being a politician is expensive.

I think Americans in general are fairly apathetic towards politics. But younger people more so than other generations? At least for this election cycle, probably.

I try to stay in the know about politics for the most part, but I am the only one in my age group I know of that does so I would have to say that most just dont care

Blablahb:
Well, obviously there's at least two explanations for this that don't involve the actual mindset of centenials:

-American culture is strongly conformistic. It leads people to inherently care less about issues that would make political topic elsewhere. For instance that the bitter poverty of many in the US hasn't lead to a radical revision of taxation and social policies is astounding to many outside the US.
-Young people are in a phase of their lives where they are very busy building their lives. They get into relationships, some for a longer period of time, graduate educations, find their first jobs and try to make a career. This leaves little time for politics, and because their financial means are generally smaller than those of old people, there's also an obstacle in terms of costs. Quite frankly, being a politician is expensive.

the second reason.

american youth are hardly conformist, we're just tired of the older generation saying "oh we fucked this up, so you guys have to fix it, sorry it burdens you but ti benefits us so much right now", so we are playing the waiting game before we make changes. cause when we try to do something, the old people look at us and call us fools and idiots (OWS) as an example. and when we dont they bitch at us about doing nothing on things they find of importance but we dont.

IDK, I know a lot more engaged younger people than I know engaged people my generation and up.

I agree that the disconnect and don't-give-a-fuck-ism is an American thing by and large. I think Americans understand that the system is broken, but I don't think they quite get why, or how they're part of that.

I did a paper on apathy among young voters my last year in College and after talking with some professors in the political science department and doing my own research the consensus seemed to be that (in a nutshell) most kids 18-24 are just starting to enter the working world or may not have done so in full yet. As such many of them do not yet fully understand how government affects them or how they can affect government. In addition many kids that age have other concerns that arent affected much by what goes on in government. I did notice that there is a notable increase in voter turnout if you increase the age range from 18-24 to 18-28.

Another explanation I received was that ironically, with the internet, 24/7 news channels, and other media sources, we actually have access to too much information which means its hard to digest it all so most people only read about things that interest them. Its not like in the past where you turned on the evening news and there was Cronkite or some guy summarizing the important events of the day. Yes there are benefits to having more information available today and I think its better than the way things used to be. That being said it would account for at least some of the apathy and ignorance particularly among younger voters who just arent interested in politics and so they dont read much about it.

I don't think that the majority of young Americans are apathetic at all. I think they're fixated on working hard, getting a job and living their lives without blaming someone else for their lack of post-college immediate wealth and success or other personal misfortune.

In a society that sadly supports instant gratification, and rewarding minimal effort, I think they just want to work and live their lives in peace, like most people. It doesn't mean they don't care. It just means that they have enough shit going on in their lives, and may not be able to just drop everything and run off to Occupy someplace.

Hop-along Nussbaum:
I don't think that the majority of young Americans are apathetic at all. I think they're fixated on working hard, getting a job and living their lives without blaming someone else for their lack of post-college immediate wealth and success or other personal misfortune.

In a society that sadly supports instant gratification, and rewarding minimal effort, I think they just want to work and live their lives in peace, like most people. It doesn't mean they don't care. It just means that they have enough shit going on in their lives, and may not be able to just drop everything and run off to Occupy someplace.

Sadly I think you give my generation too much credit. The ideas of instant gratification and blaming others for your problems are alive and well in most members of my generation, at least in my experience.

Fun fact OP, young people are shit-heads. In fact, most people are shit-heads. And they have been and will continue to be until the end of time.

So congratulations, for being less shitty than the average population.

I don't see the apathy that you happen to be seeing. Different people have different priorities, and it's rare for those priorities to align to the point where everyone happens to be concerned about the same things in the same ways.

For example, the NDAA freaked out a lot of people because they thought the government would be allowed to detain US citizens forever. But once the "not US citizens" bit got added, a lot of people stopped caring: not because they were apathetic, but because they no longer see the bill as a huge problem. The bill is pretty clear about who it's supposed to target (terrorists in the country illegally) and a lot of people are fine with that.

Well why study politics when you can watch Jersey Shore? At least that is how I see it.

 

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