My Facebook feed is cluttered to say the least: updates from celebrities to primary school classmates I’ve not spoken to for a decade, autoplaying video memes, hundreds of these “tag your friends” posts and, of course, adverts. These adverts are usually about gigs or university-related nights out; however, a recent addition has been several ads about the EU referendum that target 18-24 year olds like me, predominantly encouraging us to vote remain.
This is not about being for or against exiting the EU, or about politicians promoting their stances. I think it’s great that my generation are being exposed to politics and the EU referendum through social media. What I object to is the content of the advertisements – stop treating us like idiots, David.
It’s incredibly important that my demographic are exposed to the options we have, because the choices made affect us and our future the most, whether we choose to vote or not. Considering that only 44% of 18-24 year olds voted in the 2010 General Election (survey conducted by Ipsos Mori) but still made up 6 million of the 49 million in the voting population, our unified voice is stronger than it feels.
However, David Cameron’s ‘Vote Remain’ campaign seems to think that I, along with every other youth in the 18-24 category, am an idiot. These adverts don’t mention any of the ‘grown-up’ outcomes of leaving the EU, like the impact on economy, trade, immigration, EU-wide regulations, environmental efforts, or anything like that. These adverts are instead targeted towards what Cameron thinks the ‘typical’ youth is interested in.
He thinks I only care about a holiday to Ibiza with my friends and an addiction to Facebook and Instagram (which I don’t deny) that could be jeopardised by higher 4G roaming costs when I’m abroad. Yes, these do have the potential to be affected by the outcome of the referendum, but I am offended that the Prime Minister thinks that just because I am a ‘young voter’, I am too selfish to care about anything other than holidays and social media.
“If you continue to think of us as stupid and self-involved delinquents, of course over 40% of us will continue to have no interest in politics”
Our generation is considered by many as self-absorbed and selfish, but while I admit I don’t like the idea of more expensive holidays or roaming costs, this doesn’t mean I don’t care about any other issues surrounding the EU referendum. Everyone in my demographic is interested in lots of different issues, including how the economy could be affected and the resultant impact on jobs, university education, immigration, and safety and terrorism; surprising as that may be, we care about the safety of others and ourselves in addition to the price of holidays.
The bottom line is WE CARE. We care about the wider potential impacts of the EU referendum. Information about these issues and the other things we care about should be made easily available and accessible to us. I encourage more exposure of political debate to the youth because I think we just need to be given the opportunity and resources to care more.
If you continue to think of us as stupid and self-involved delinquents, of course over 40% of us will continue to ‘have no interest in politics’ (quoted on 45forthe45th.com). It’s understandable that sometimes we can find politics dull—we are being represented by adults who are not relatable and patronise us instead of attempting to understand how we feel.
David Cameron: I’m not as stupid as you think I am. You were in the young voter demographic once. Despite some of your more questionable antics as a uni student, I’m sure you didn’t think of yourself as stupid then. If you had, you probably wouldn’t be where you are now. So stop treating us like we are all as naive and self-absorbed as you think we are. We’re not perfect, but have some empathy and imagine you’re us. You’d be offended too.