Young movements and old manners

young people go down to the streets and demonstrateClimate change, the rise of violent extremism and widespread sexism, the crisis of modern capitalism, are some of today’s society issues, which pushed especially young people to go down to the streets and demonstrate. We’ve seen in the past few years thousands of new movements blossom around the globe, putting pressure on the dominant political agenda.

2nd June 2015, in Buenos Aires and other 120 cities across the country, a large number of people took the streets against women working and social condition in South America, starting from the episode of Susana Chavez – a Mexican poet victim of feminicide – and the strict policies adopted by Argentinian President Macri towards women. The protest spread rapidly throughout Latin America, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Uruguay and the world itself. The phenomenon of Ni una Menos is cross-sectional but involves especially young people willing to make them hear their voices, everywhere. Many similar movements grew up, as in Italy, a country that saw its young population very active in the last few years.

The Italian situation is interesting in two directions: both a renewed need to demonstrate to influence the political agenda and the nervous answers to these movements by politicians who have contrary opinions. One main example is Matteo Salvini’s behaviour towards his young opponents. On March, Italian Interior Minister published on his social accounts the picture of Viola Pacilli, a 22 years old girl who attended a demonstration with a protest sign against fascism and Salvini’s controversial propaganda. Indeed, publishing her face without any kind of sensible reason (and at the boundaries of legality) meant exposing her to a direct shaming rack from Salvini’s supporters.

The case just mentioned unfortunately is not isolated, on the contrary, it is a frequent practice. In Hungary, for instance, Blanka Nagy, a high school student, was overwhelmed by tough insults from governmental sources, especially the press loyal to president Orbán. We could mention hundreds of more examples, and it is clearly a symptom of the problem.

This is part of a common strategy to far-right representatives which consists in finding an “enemy” against whom their supporters can pour out anger and frustration. It is a classic political concept, the friend/enemy dichotomy – which considers political actions and motives lead by the distinction in friends and enemies – theorised by Carl Schmitt (no coincidence an important academic even during the Nazi period). Anyway, with social networks and internet these techniques are becoming more invasive and “public”, with a new destructive potential: take the Dreyfus Affair, a political scandal occurred in late 19th century France, which symbolises a prelude to the decisive antisemitism and racism which eventually lead to World War II tragedy. Then, try to imagine it nowadays: do you find any similarities? Migrants seen as a terrifying threat, terrorist attacks turned into Islamophobia, Climate change simply reduced to a “hoax”, poor people merely considered humans, except when there is the need for votes. History is life’s teacher.

However, what is often depicted as a generation without values, politically indifferent and less valid than the previous ones, represents instead the real voice that calls for a radical change in the current socio-economic and political system. Greta Thunberg is just the last example of how much the “weak” can do, because the people who pursue political strategies as described before are the same who would call a girl like Greta a “weak”, unable to make any substantial change. Instead, she – as many others – embodies a strong answer to the rising politics of hate.

(written by Claudio Antonio De Angelis)

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Children reflecting on fake news and Brexit

As children have not been consulted on Brexit and its effects in Northern Ireland – the Early Years group of children have come to their own conclusions.

This video captures 2 children reflecting on how they think Brexit is now Fake News! This came up as part of their discussions on their WYRED research project on Fake News.

 

 

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The new horizon of democracy

The new horizon of democracy

“Today, it is not that unusual to hear of people talking about e-democracy.

It is a conventional term that describes an unconventional way by which citizens take directly part in the public life of their cities and countries.

E-democracy is an opportunity to reduce the gap between citizens and the government in the difficult field of communication. As a matter of fact, it widens the communicative horizon, in such a trying time when the only words seem to be ‘’walls’’ and ‘’borders’’.

An authentic democracy should give everyone the chance (and voice) to be heard and to participate in the public life, as well as take every opinion into account in order to try to do better and make the best choice for people.

The problem is that people feel the distance between the democratic institutions and themselves; conversely, e-democracy is a virtual space in which everyone can say ‘’I exist, I vote and I would like to take part to the ‘’decision making processes’’.

I think that e-democracy is the best way we could go. I have chosen this topic because it is a constantly evolving issue on which citizens like me should express their needs, and in my opinion, we have the right and the duty to do so.

In conclusion, it seems reasonable to assume that, although e-democracy, with its lights and shadows, is a hotly debated issue, it makes it possible to debate between different realities. In the light of that, hadn’t we better if we turned off the ‘’airplane mode’’ and start to get connected?”

Camilla Caciolo

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Digital addiction

Digital AddictionA group of students (age 16) at Hof Hasharon regional high school in Israel discussed the problem of “digital addiction”.

All students said they are “living in their smartphones” a lot of time every day, some of them many hours a day. Most of them would like to occupy themselves less with their screens. However, it was understood that it is not necessarily addiction in the clinical sense, but rather excessive preoccupation and difficulty in disconnecting. So the “addiction” actually refers to how the user copes when he or she needs to log out.

The crux of the problem is the difficulty of disconnecting, even though you know it would have been better to do something else. One student noted that his parents thought he was like a “clinical addict”. He was addicted to the Fortnite game, used to play for hours each day, and only after a severe pressure from his parents he now plays only on weekends. But most participants think that enforced restrictions and prohibitions are not effective. On the contrary, they achieve the opposite result, as young people will continue to do the prohibited things.

It was mentioned that parents often give a screen to children too early, when they are too young. The problem is not just health risk (to eyes, etc.). The problem is that we give up on social activity and that’s not good.

So how can young people cope with the problem? What can be done?

One student exclaimed “Revolution! Let’s start to boycott the phones! With time more people will join!” Another student expressed an opposite view: “I have no problem with such addiction. Being occupied with the screens is good for me. If wanted to stop, I would stop!

Other participants favored the solution of “voluntary disengagement” based on applications that automatically warn the user and recommend stopping after a certain time” Perhaps not the best solution, but better than nothing. A number of participants blamed the irresistible technology: developers want to to arouse excitement. That’s the goal. The apps give us something we need, excitement. “Everything now is fast and accessible, all is excitement, you cannot prevent it, it’s part of the progress!

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