Do politics, or politics will do you
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Walk into a Starbucks near Oxford sStreet. What do you expect? Teens guzzling jugs of Frappucinos while texting and Snapchatting? You’d be wrong. Or at least, you would have been the night before the general election. Instead of selfies and shopping bags all you could see were posters urging young people to vote, to “do politics, or politics will do you”. And the mix of young people convened there were doing exactly that: discussing what matters most to this generation, what they care about, expressing their disappointments as well as their hopes and ideas – in other words, they were doing politics. Their message was clear: “do not call us ‘generation apathy’”. No doubt the internet, social media and even new developments such as conversational journalism have definitely expanded the availability of information and thus broadened potential opportunities for engagement. Many of us do sign and even launch petitions for causes we are passionate about; we do read and inform ourselves daily, and by not following traditional methods we engage in politics 2.0. Yet two traditional but fundamental activities are unescapable in the political process: exchanging one’s views by discussing and, obviously, voting. This is where Bite the Ballot, the organiser of the event that I attended and that brought together young people to discuss politics – and policies – in an informal and relaxed manner, comes in. Whether you’re a slacktivist or simply apathetic, Bite the Ballot wants you to exchange your views with others, register to vote, and - crucially - vote. If coffeehouses and pubs used to be the political arena par excellence, why shouldn’t Starbucks become one as well? We’ve had all sorts of forums and spaces online, but time has come to talk about the issues that matter the most in person, either with our friends or other peers.
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