Going Back to Our Roots
Updated: 4 days ago
By: Francis Finlayson
The post-Cold War optimism of the 1990s spawned a more superfluous academic consensus as to economic and social stability than perhaps ever before. Proclamations of the “End of History,” as coined by political scientist Francis Fukuyama, rang out in unison, the market-oriented, democratic, individual rights-based international order would bring prosperity unseen by the civilizations of old. However, the two intimately connected but hidden fangs of technological interconnectedness and civic disengagement have punctured that outlook, particularly for generation “Z,” the Zoomers, and it shows in their politics.
Zoomers, such as I, grew up alongside the breathtakingly rapid development of communications technology. From the original touch-screen iPhone to the global ascendance of Facebook and Instagram, we were inundated with newfound abilities. Instant access to friends the world-over brought us closer together than ever before but isolated us mentally. These technologies imbued a reliance on the approval of others, constant comparisons of our lives with the lives of others, and an unquenchable thirst for ever-more capable devices. This is widely acknowledged to be one of the primary causes of the exceptional levels of depression, loneliness, and anxiety in those under 30 years old, and to an even greater degree amongst the Zoomers.
At the same time, the disintegration of traditional civic institutions that once provided a sense of community and camaraderie has left the Zoomers without a solution to these woes. Church attendance for Christians of nearly all denominations has been declining for decades, and those who consider themselves religious has dissipated in tandem. Take a drive around any Canadian town and you will find abandoned or struggling churches. The Canadian cadet programs, such as the Royal Canadian Army Cadets, Scouts Canada, local Lions’ clubs, and even minor sports leagues have suffered similar downturns, with no discernable end in sight. It is not difficult to guess what young Canadians are doing in place of civic engagement, they are entranced by the incessantly advancing technologies mentioned earlier.
Due to both trends, it is no surprise why Zoomers and young Canadians as a whole feel disenfranchised by the political process. They are victims of unprecedented societal transformations in technology and community atomization, problems which, if politicians even understand them, are not being properly addressed. Thus, youth voter turnout is far below that of other generations, as is commonly displayed in both federal and provincial elections. For those that are engaged in the political process, they are enthralled. Zoomers are politically polarized, almost none possess a centrist or moderate disposition. During the 2019 federal election, left-wing NDP leader Jagmeet Singh attracted crowds of thousands on university campuses, while the one-year-old right-wing People’s Party of Canada polled at an impressive 10% of voters aged 18-24. This is not even mentioning the youth bastion that is the Green Party of Canada. In political polarization, Zoomers are subconsciously seeking a cohesive identity. Politics gives those Zoomers that are interested in it the community, striving towards a common goal, that was robbed from them with technological isolation and the ongoing death of civic institutions.
Politics however, is no substitute for a personal identity. As evidence, it has not corrected any of the mental anguish or confusion that led Zoomers to adopt polarized politics in the first place. Even so, I believe there is a natural solution to these issues, rebuilding the Canadian identity. Educating young people about their history, how their country was built, what the founding ideals were, how their families contributed to Canada’s development, and reminding them that they are part of an intergenerational story. Re-establishing our roots will bind the community. While this may seem simple, or as if I am advocating a panacea solution, it is without a doubt that Zoomers crave inspiration, and this would give it to them. It is the necessary start, because without roots, without going back to the basics, country, community, family, we will continue drifting apart.
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIALS:
Subscribe to our mailing list down below