Pathetically Apathetic: The Decline of Political Awareness


Political Apathy Abstract“If it’s important, I’ll hear about it, eventually.” This is an actual defense that a person gave me for not being aware of political events. As time has passed, I’ve noticed that people seem to care less and less about politics. What’s worse is that there seems to be no remorse over it.
During my junior year, I attended two political clubs: the Young Democrats’ Club and the Young Republicans’ Club. I attended these two clubs in a vain attempt to get a feel for what the political landscape was like. My time there was interesting, but it also revealed something about how young people looked at politics; with disinterest. Whenever any club asked for volunteers, the hands raised were quite scarce. Interest was low, volunteering was low and general enthusiasm was low. I attended both clubs and yet had no heightened knowledge of what was going on, nor any interest in the clubs themselves. Many followed that trend. Looking around, it’s not hard to see where it all came from.
To understand why we care so little about politics, one has to first take note of technology. The average person gets the great majority of his information from the internet. Yet, one must remember how much of this information is made up simply of distractions. Every day, the average person is engaged in social networking, e-mail, and entertainment–with politics being a side-note. The most political information we get is from the headlines of whatever site we visit. When so little of what we look at has to do with the world around us, our focus becomes skewed, abstracted by our own day to day lives.
Yet, I think that the most important reason that the current generation is not only unaware of political events, but also almost glad of this fact, is that people see political opinions as a nuisance. After seeing the intense debates and arguments on political shows, it is possible that people are afraid of expressing their opinions, for fear of being unpopular with their peers. News networks typically air political debates, but one cannot help but notice that a good number of these shows involve a group of people constantly shouting over each other. With the younger generation witnessing this, there is a common misconception that this is all there is to political discussion. People have forgotten what calm, reasonable political conversation is like, and so we only know of it as farcical madness. There has been no attempt to change this view, so there is a frightening chance that it may stay around to haunt future generations.
Politics can be a personal matter to many, but it should be noted that the subject of how a government should be run was what incited the formation of America in the first place. It is through well-informed discussion that we as voters and citizens can talk about the future and make our judgments of the government. Yet, I’ve rarely met anybody on the streets who bases their opinion on facts that they know. If this self-imposed ignorance continues, the country will be even more incapable of dealing with its problems than it is now. To think about the deadlock our country is in over gun control and the budget shows just a glimpse of what our country could be like if we do not change how we look at politics and its importance to each of us today. In any true democracy, the leaders we elect must reflect the people they lead. But if the people they lead are not involved in relevant issues, then there is hardly hope of our leadership doing the same.
Staff Writer