Tips for pollies wishing to connect with Gen Y
Barack Obama is so Gen Y, even though he’s 47.
Just this week he was copping a grilling on American station CNBC about government economic intervention when he stopped for a second, eyed off an annoying fly, and obliterated it ninja-style. “Now, where were we?” he asks the interviewer. What a chiller.
Pan left for a second to Kevin Rudd, 51, who when put in a similar situation, pulls out the painful to watch sauce-bottle-shake chat in a desperate attempt to appear “with-it”. With added cringe-benefits.
Why is it so hard for Aussie pollies to just, for a moment, appear cool?
K-Rudd: A lot of Generation Y, including me, won’t get past the saucy slanging from last week. M-Dawg: (*editors note: I think this means Turnbull) Your persistent need to Twitter from your Blackberry in parliament is pretty Gen Y, I guess, but doesn’t make up for the blog about your dog.
Obama, on the other hand, is building a basketball court in the White House. Respect.
There are almost 2 million voters under the age of 30 in Australia and young voters as a demographic played the most decisive role in the 2007 election result. Generation Y is not complicated, weird, hard to read. If you’re cool, we will like you. It goes for parents, friends, bosses and, yes, even politicians.
“That’s the stupidest f**king argument I’ve ever heard,” says a co-worker rudely reading over my shoulder.
But is it?
In the 2008 US election, there was a massive two-to-one swing towards Obama by voters under 30, even though the percentage of young voters only increased from 17 per cent in 2004 to 18 per cent in 2008. The swing helped him become President of the United States. Gen Y US voters were not yet touched by the financial crisis, were lethargic about Iraq, but flocked to Barack in droves. Why? Well he stretched Facebook, Twitter and Myspace to the limit of their potential, said stuff like “you know what I’m sayin”, and can shoot a mean 3-pointer.
The youth vote was split 50/50 in 2004 between Bush and Kerry. Was it the cool that brought the Democrats back to the White House?
“Don’t politicians have more to worry about than appearing cool to Gen Y.. Like running the country?” says talking head over the shoulder.
Sure. But pollies will embrace any gimmick or ploy to connect with their electorate. How else do you explain Rudd’s slang last week. Why isn’t being “more Gen Y” one of those gimmicks?
The power of Gen Y cool had a hand in the recent European elections.
The Pirate Party - essentially the brainchild of the founders of illegal internet download website “The Pirate Bay” and loved by Gen Y for their endless supply of free music, videos and staunch rebellion to international copyright laws - were definitely the cool alternative to the fuddy-duddy “actual” parties. 200,000 swedes voted for them, mostly those under 30. They picked up 7.1 % of the vote and will occupy one of Sweden’s 18 seats in the European parliament.
Annoying shoulder voice: “Doesn’t that cast Gen Y as stupid morons with no interest in the policies of these political parties?”
Sure some are interested but most of us aren’t. We’re the youngest, most innattentive, inconsistent, sporadically energised generation of voters. Embrace it.
I’m Gen Y and I have an attention span of 3.5 minutes (i.e. somewhere between that of a goldfish and a 3-week old puppy) and am easily distracted by bright flickering lights.
It scares me the number of my mates who I spoke to on election day that hadn’t decided who to vote for until they walked in the booth. “I voted Labor. Howard can’t bowl a cricket ball for crap,” said one. “I went with Howard because Rudd writes Tweets like a dweeb,” said another.
Suppose it’s no surprise really that Aussie pollies struggle to appear cool to Generation Y, considering the nature of advice given to Rudd by “representatives” of our generation.
In May Rudd launched a book that came out of the 2020 Youth Summit: The Future by Us by “young up-and-comers”. ‘Twas a lot of dross about drive-thru health food outlets and “carbon banks” for our personal carbon emissions. Wanky.
To the eight authors’ credit, at least two of their ideas were based on Facebook. That’s pretty cool I guess.
So, how can pollies appear more Gen Y?
According to the internet’s cool guide, “a crucial component to being and staying cool is what you say, when you say it, and how you say it. You can’t just be talkin’ your head off and not slip in a few gems that guarantee your coolness.”
With that in mind, here’s some things to remember when talking to Gen Y:
- Dont talk about the Grimshaw / Ramsey spat to appear in touch with pop culture. (We don’t watch ACA, its not cool).
- Instead comment on who’s playing Big Day Out, your latest “sick” iPhone app, or what Facebook thinks your Hollywood persona is.
- Instead of laughing, say LOL
- Instead of saying sorry say SOZ
- Upper/Lower House should henceforth be referred to as Upper Hizzle and Lower Hizzle.
- Never say wanky words like henceforth.
- When u do something good say “no big deal” or “no biggie”
So, when explaining former Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon’s sacking, Rudd could have simply said: “Ma boi Fitzo has been getting pwned () lately by the press because he’s been a bit of a noob (http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noob) with defence. At first I was like, WTF? But then I was like GTFO . BTW we’re not in a depression, no biggie.
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