By Mohammed Raqeeb
Let’s start with the basics. Everyone has eyes, ears and a brain and use them for various purposes. I am sure there are some activities where these organs are used quite frequently in every individual’s life. The interests of a person are just a reflection of their perception of the world. Now, how does one perceive their world? The answer is through circumstances.
Take a dive into the lives of great humanitarians like Martin Luther King jr, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela - they have all got something in common, they have experienced social issues in their circumstances, created awareness about these issues and attempted to eliminate them. Politicians have the power to fix a majority of social issues, if not all of them.
There are three ways young people react when they read, hear or witness a social issue:
No reaction, they are totally numb.
Understand that this is an issue, sympathise with the situation but do not go beyond this.
Decide that they are involved from now on, brainstorm ideas on how to eliminate this issue and take action.
To understand the first response you have to recognise that the biggest challenge in today’s digital world is being mindful. How mindful you are can be assessed by asking yourself a question? How much time do you spend doing mindless activities and how much time do you spend on conscious ones every single day? There is a favour I am asking you and I am sure that you are not an inconsiderate person who turns down a sincere request. I want you to do an activity at least 50 times in a single day; the number of minutes you spend completing the activity is up to you. Would you be able to do it? Irrespective of your answer, you are already doing that prescribed activity with your smartphone. How are you even able to do it? It’s all a game of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurochemical that is produced in your brain whenever you do something that feels good and this can naturally become incredibly addicting.
Whenever you experience something pleasurable, even something as simple as receiving a lot of likes on your most recent Instagram post, dopamine is produced in your brain. Production of dopamine in the brain isn’t inherently good or bad, it is a natural process and up to the individual who trains the production of dopamine in specific situations. There are people who have trained their brain to produce dopamine while doing something really productive. However, production of dopamine by instant gratification can become a real problem because you will be programmed to repeat the activity countless times. I would suggest that when you become addicted to instant gratification, you can easily become numb towards social issues. There is a popular saying that “to be silent, is to be complicit" but it’s not fair to say that these folks are complicit in social issues because they aren’t really aware of them - they are simply lost in their routine of instant gratification. In my opinion, anyone who is a part of society should voice their opinion on social issues and as that description applies to all of us, to one extent or another, everyone should start speaking out.
To understand the second response, you have to be aware that there is a widespread narrative across the globe that problems cannot be fixed, social issues are what they are, politics is bad, it is disappointing, leaders are corrupt, the system cannot be changed, politicians are powerful and that you can simply be crushed by them, etc. It is because of these narratives that politicians can do what they like without accountability even after committing heinous crimes. Social issues might take time to solve but the number of people involved in fixing the issue is directly proportional to the time needed. You can disrespect politics and politicians as much as you want, but that will never take away from the fact that the constitution empowers them for administration. Politicians are public servants but not holding them accountable has made them modern autocrats. I understand this approach to politics and social issues, but removing yourself isn’t helping either, is it?
I also partly blame the domination of entertainment content on social media as a reason for the youth's disinterest in social issues. The majority of young people are far more interested in entertainment than any other type of content. I recently ran a poll on my Instagram account asking if social media is dominated by entertainment and if entertainment content is sidelining more important content. Had there been enough content on social issues on social media, I firmly believe it would make a difference to the interests of the youth.
For a better world in the future, the next generation of politicians should place their country above their party, be secular, believe in science, understand the ground reality, never lie to their people, develop a spine to speak against leaders who are abusing their power (racism, oppression, human right violations etc) and for this to happen, the younger generations should be educated on the flaws in our current political system, start speaking out and create awareness on the social issues occurring in the world today so that we can strive for a better tomorrow.
Disclaimer: All views expressed in this piece belong solely to the author and do not reflect the views of Demographica as a company.