Home > Uncategorized > Blog 11: Citizens of the Generations

Blog 11: Citizens of the Generations

Being a citizen in the 21st century is a significantly different experience than it was for my parents and grandparents. We’ve talked about a lot of the reasons for this in class, and from our discussions I think that we as young people understand how our roles in democracy have evolved over the years (whether we fulfill those roles or not). Today, we have access to more information than ever before and we can use this information to be better informed about issues and to better participate in democracy. We have the responsibility to do so by using this wealth of information, but as we’ve talked about, what happens is that most people use technology as a filter. They serve themselves content that they want and ignore content that they don’t, actively hindering their role as citizens of this country.

When my parents were my age (in the mid 1980’s), they didn’t have the same access we have now. I can’t speak for how involved in democracy young people were, but it serves to reason that they were exposed to limited amounts of information. They did not live online the way that people now do, so any information they received had to have been sought out in some form, whether that be through the newspaper, TV, or radio. Though, when they did get their news, they got the content that the news networks or papers wanted them to. There was a limited number of channels and options, so they received the same information as everyone else. Even if this didn’t facilitate participation, I’d like to think it would at least create an active discourse, as everyone’s news was focused on certain stories.

Who better to represent the 80s? This guy.

The good ol days

When my grandparents were my age (in the 1950’s), it would have been a relatively tumultuous time, WWII would have recently ended and the tension of the cold war would be in full swing. Their access to information would also be  much more limited than even my parents’ time. Without the use of TV, they’d be served information through the newspaper, and as young people I don’t imagine that their participation would be very high, as their options for participation wouldn’t be very abundant.

Despite these differences, I think that the definition of being a good citizen has remained largely the same throughout the generations. People should stay informed through the methods available to them, they should participate in an open discourse, and they should exercise their ability to participate in democracy-even if that’s just by voting. Clearly, options and attitudes have changed significantly over the past several decades, but being a good citizen has always meant being a good citizen.

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