Goddamned kids these days! Bunch of lazy, illiterate, good-for-nothings who only care about the latest nip slip from some vapid celebrity!
I'm paraphrasing here, but that's pretty much the sentiment Geoff Hendry expressed in his latest column for Riotwire.
But Geoff definitely has one thing right -- people graduating high school, university, technical college, hell, pretty much anywhere are about to get dicked around, and hard.
For Geoff, the solution to said dicking is for young people to "pick up a newspaper." Presumably, reading a newspaper will magically transform these kids from social-media addicted nincompoops to sophisticated and engaged citizens.
There are a few obvious reasons why no self-respecting millennial would be caught dead with a newspaper. Beyond the gross inky stains they leave on your fingers, by picking up a newspaper you are murdering old growth forests, and contributing to climate change. Why bother with a disposable product that is killing the planet and is telling you about stuff that literally happened yesterday?
Is this really what it takes just to get day old information? (Flickr / hello turkey toe)
So maybe Geoff really means read the news no matter where you can find it.
But perhaps we should be asking why these stupid kids (us included) aren't reading the news when they're the most educated generation of all time?
Let's examine the mainstream media choices available right now, and see why kids won't be engaging with them any time soon.
(flickr / edkohler)
The Globe and Mail
Ah, the grand dame of Canadian journalism. The newspaper that claims to be national, but screams Upper Canada. What would young people find in its illustrious pages? How about why millennials are a bunch of entitled twerps that expect riches but don't want to work for them? Or an election time endorsement for the Conservative Party, surely the party that is most in touch with youth issues. Or maybe it's Margaret Wente that young people should be paying attention to? Ha!
The Toronto Star
While the Globe and Mail holds court as Canadian journalism's most self-important figure, the Toronto Star actually has the biggest circulation -- even without pretending to be a national paper. And unlike the Globe and Mail, the Star might be a likely candidate for young people to read. After all, they are obsessed with Rob Ford, who is basically somewhere between the Kardashians and Jersey Shore on the scale of entertainment. But the problem is that the Star has something out for the Somali community, which their own public editor admits.
And frankly, millennials can smell racism from a mile away, and tend to shun it.
The National Post
Aside from the strangely compelling libertarianism of Andrew Coyne, pretty much everything we said about the Globe and Mail applies to the National Post. But instead of Margaret Wente, they've got Christie Blatchford, the same kook who blames rape victims for being raped, who designates Aboriginal people "terrorists," and called Jack Layton's moving deathbed missive "vainglorious."
The Sun, The Province, and every other tabloid
Actually, the Sun chain of papers and other tabloids like them could be great candidates for millennial-focused media. The paper is very much like the internet -- the front page is basically a meme, it's written in short sentences, it's full of half-baked idea and always includes porn.
But remember when we said that millennials happen to be the. most. educated. generation. EVER? They aren't going to start reading the Sun's ridiculous, hateful screed. They can see right through that shit.
Blame and shame never sold any burgers
Sooo … it doesn't seem that the journalistic establishment has made any kind of effort to get young people to buy their product. All we hear from them is "declining youth voter turnout" and how kids these days don't have a sense of "duty."
But maybe newspapers should take a page from actual businesses. If young people aren't buying McDonald's hamburgers, you aren't going to see Ronald McDonald waggling his finger and excoriating kiddies for their healthy food choices.* They're going to either figure out how to make hamburgers appeal to young people, or try to sell them chicken nuggets.
Perhaps news could be made more appealing to young people. But it might be that no matter how you package it, young people might not want to engage with straight up news at all.
Death and destruction never sold any burgers either
So let's think about why millennials might not be engaging with the news, no matter where it comes from.
We've known for years that the media sells fear and hopelessness. After all, if it bleeds it leads. But the media isn't just selling car crashes or even wars anymore. They're selling a global economic, environmental meltdown that is destroying this generation's hope for any kind of future.
As we're fond of saying here at Riotwire, it's not apathy that's plaguing our generation -- it's too much pathos. Millennials aren't plugged into the news because we're turning away as a means of psychological self-defence. And we're choosing to focus on the parts of our collective lives that can actually bring us hope.
We should be twisting the testicles of the media establishment (Flickr / MadAdminSkillz)
All in all, young people have a pretty good understanding of how things work: they get shafted, and somebody else reaps the benefits. Will reading a newspaper change that? It's probably more likely to lull you into a false sense of security, all the while slowly making you believe that you’re an entitled, self-absorbed piece of caca.
Our prescription to young people? Yes, you're going to get dicked around. But that doesn't mean you have to buy into a system that is blatantly against you. Use those god given thumbs of yours to text your way into a new community. Keep protesting, you're already doing it more than any previous generation of youth.
Participate in, and militate for, the sharing economy.
Or maybe start a publication that lampoons politics and gets people thinking about important shit without contributing to our collective nervous breakdown. Well, maybe not that last one…
Res & Suzanne edit and publish Riotwire, where this article originally appeared.
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