WRITERS PEN | REPORTINGS & ESSAYS

Y, we do care.

Gen-Y“So tired from a jam packed weekend of fun.”
“Eating ube ice cream and watching under seigee”
“Totally procrastinating -.-”
(2 people like this status)

After reading the latest Facebook status updates of some friends, it’s forgivable to think that perhaps the youth of today have nothing on the marching protestors that characterised the youth of the past. You might even call us an apathetic bunch, obsessively self-absorbed with our internet alter egos haunting the halls of Facebook, MySpace, Bebo or whatever new craze hits the fan. You might even be one of those shaking their heads at the crowds piling into the clubs on a Friday or Saturday night asking why the young don’t try to make a difference anymore. Why don’t we do something worthwhile? Why doesn’t Generation-Y care?

I can’t speak for all of Gen–Y. I can barely speak on my own behalf – my opinions are so transient they seem to change as often as my status updates. But I will put this thought out into an unsuspecting world. Don’t log out on us just yet.

Everywhere I turn, my friends – the so-called ‘youth of today’ – are organising fundraisers, youth forums and charity fun runs. Facebook invites and email chains have revolutionised the way we mobilise our friends and rally them to our causes. You won’t see us visibly handing out leaflets and occupying soapboxes on the corners to be heard. The people you do see are the sorry few who won’t accept that the computer is not just a tool for capitalist manipulation.

To make a terribly generalistic statement, the youth of today are the uniquely proactive individuals who happen to be born in this ‘internet age’ and are exceptionally adept at getting involved. If they want to be part of their university society or, join a group championing human rights or eliminating poverty, they Google it. They don’t even need personal invites to events they’re passionate about that pop up on one of their friend’s Facebook accounts – they can rock up and see what’s happening on their own. I’m not so sure how Gen-X would have taken to an impersonal invite, but it seems that for many in Gen-Y, the cause speaks for itself.

It is through the powerful tool of the Internet that cash-strapped students have managed to avoid the pitfalls of high phone bills to let other intrigued minds know what’s going on. Don’t underestimate the power of a status update either. Ask any of your ‘young’ friends how many people read the paper and how many people read and comment on their friend’s status updates and once you compare you’ll realise that we’re more connected than we think and have a greater impact on each other than ever before.

The more the youth know about each other the more they are inspired by each other. In 2008 there was only one youth forum for Filipinos in Sydney. The following year, it was everywhere.

In addition to youth forums, there are several youth groups who are making a difference to the lives of young people, including many Australian-Filipinos, and they have been for years. To name a few, St. Clair, St. Andrews Marayong, St. Aiden’s youth groups, the Penrith Filipino Youth Group Barkada, the Filipino Society of UNSW, so many dance groups and basketball teams. Then there’s the Youth for Christ, a group that’s been developing young leaders for years and spawned the anti-poverty movement Gawad Kalinga, which sends hundreds of youth volunteers to the Philippines to help the poor.

The youth also inspire individuals. I have friends who are executives in political organisations, Australian ambassadors to the UN, scholars in London and solar engineering. I even have friends who are acclaimed artists and hard working baristas at Gloria Jeans while taking music lessons. We are out there organising multicultural concerts to raise money for the poor in the Philippines, winning karate competitions, building our future internet spaces as graphic designers and web developers, and even starting magazines like the Australian Filipina. All of this – while also trying to maintain our souls and our minds.

Perhaps society has just become more disaggregate than we ever expected. We meet less as a community, know fewer people in the town square, and hold our bags tighter on the trains. Perhaps the youth we do see are those who seem to just ‘bum’ in the malls when they’re supposed to be at school. But don’t forget that the youth whom you don’t see are probably too busy going to their next training session, working hard at a retail job to pay for their textbooks or studying to finish a degree and making a real difference to their future, and to ours.

I don’t know what my rant is about exactly. I’m a stressed out university student who’s writing this on a Sunday night instead of doing taxation law readings, which is already a day late. But I just had a compulsion to share this thought, so I logged onto my gmail account and clicked ‘send’.

* Share your thoughts on this and  email Ana at anagacis@gmail.com

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