Many young people prefer politics – but how long?

One reason for Mr Obama’s success is that his campaign has effectively deployed young electronic communicators. They tirelessly use blogs and social networking sites to help generate excitement, collect money, get votes, and raise the political awareness of the whole country.

All this is a milestone in the political history of the Internet. But the change of the modern communication – at best, the free – effect in poorer than the United States and severe social more dramatic: authoritarian regime and country until recently to give young people in a strict sense room for manoeuvre.

The problem for many web watchers is that young surfers are exposed to facts, sights, sounds and a range of interlocutors far beyond their parents, how will they use such a visit? Will they try to change the world, or just to enjoy themselves?

With so much evidence of the latter’s choice, experts have invented a new word, net-hedonism, to describe it. To the dismay of idealists, young people in many countries seem to have abandoned the previous generations of political struggle, and chose a digital nirvana, and enjoying a lot of movies, music, instant communication, of course, sexual opportunity. One attraction of cyber-hedonism is that it is less likely to attract the attention of the authorities than politics.

Electronic entertainment ranges from innocent to lethal youth. In Nigeria, the best sellers offer young people a reminder to “touch the hearts of people through memorable text messages”. Young indians like to browse the marriage website for a good match. Couples who want to celebrate by visiting the taj mahal are able to take virtual Tours. In richer Asian countries, such as South Korea or Singapore, young people are enthusiastic about online gambling, which is often addictive. Cyber-hedonism certainly does not replace the flirting and sex in real life. It seems to just remove some of the obstacles. Chile has produced a youth culture known as the pokemon movement, where young people with strange hairstyles come together to kiss or more.

In China, a third of poll respondents agreed that “pure online may have a real relationship”, as did one in five americans. But it is clear that not all the Chinese people are happy to keep things virtual: operating pregnancy helpline in Shanghai said the doctor, she received the phone in half from the girl knew the boy through the network.

In many countries, the fact is that access to pornography is the biggest attraction for young people online. Newcomers to the Middle East or southeast Asian Internet cafes are often surprised to see a male client who clumsily guards their screens from the public eye. The owners of these cafes knew what was going on, but they also realised that a crackdown in the name of morality could cost them business. Meanwhile, in the ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, most of the information passed between teenage mobile phones is pornographic.

The rise of online hedonism poses a dilemma for political leaders and religious institutions: do they follow young people online, or in vain attempt to lure them away from computers?

In Asia, some politicians are trying to profit from online hedonism by showing their devotees. In last year’s election in Taiwan, candidates rushed to the Internet and youth friendly. A spokesman for a heavy metal band has posted a series of ads on video sharing site YouTube. He was frustrated by the explicit exchange of “lust, caution”, a popular porn movie.

In living standards rising authoritarian countries such as Russia and China, until recently, the official tolerance of cyber-hedonism has always been the authorities provide a faustian deal: if you have new and unconventional ways, we will let you enjoy himself from politics. But now that the economy has gone bad, will the young people continue to bargain?


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