Monday, October 15, 2007

It's On for Young and Old

... especially young, if yesterday's poll is anything to go by. To the ballot-boxes, fellow 73-percenters!

Commentators will make much of the idea that Rudd's superior online presence is swaying the Yoof Vote in favour of Labor. The YouTube election, etc. Resist this interpretation. For starters, it makes young people sound like imbeciles. "I'm, like, totally voting for Rudd. He has like a blog and everything." Please.

Secondly, there seems to be some confusion about what people use the internet for. Listen: hardly anybody is going online with an open mind and deciding who to vote for based on what they find. It doesn't work like that. The thing about Web 2.0 is that it's diffuse, fragmented, specialised. People look for like-minded content providers and stick with them. We seek out commentators whose views coincide with ours. We join Facebook groups we support. We trade satirical links with our friends. We read blogs we mostly agree with. We might refine our views on the economy or the health system or the environment, but we ain't switching sides because of a YouTube video.

So why are young people 'deserting' Howard? Because he's old, and Rudd is not. Because we worry about the environment, and don't trust Howard to do anything about it. Because we don't remember the fabled 17% interest rates, and quite frankly don't see ourselves getting a mortgage anytime soon anyway. Because, for all the talk of this generation's conservatism, we are still more socially liberal than older generations: more tolerant of homosexuality, less concerned about Muslims, less likely to believe in God. Put simply, we don't really share Howard's vision, such as it is. And if it's taken us til now to realise that, well, forgive us. We've been busy making videos for YouTube.

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