Why are younger generations afraid of commitment?
Democracy in danger : Being afraid doesn't help
Many are afraid of the future. I've always seen myself as an optimistic realist. That helps to come up with new ideas and move things forward. But when it comes to one topic, my optimism is shaken: democracy in Germany. After all, how should our democracy continue when the current conditions limit the time to develop into good democrats? For me, maintaining democracy and living together in a society that is shaped by democracy is a core element of the future. So I'm very worried.
During our studies - as in school - we are confronted with tight timetables. It goes from one exam to the next, and after the G8 and Bologna reforms, we have less time for the same amount of content to finish with excellent grades. The pressure on the younger generation has grown. The job market needs the next generation. But these offspring need time to learn how to work independently and take initiatives themselves. The freedom we need to get involved in society. Even those who have already arrived at work are often deprived of this opportunity because they should or must be constantly available.
Showing an interest in society and politics, developing an attitude, takes time.
Admittedly, it's not that we don't have time. But what we have left, we often invest in the new media, which have become more and more confusing due to their multitude of possibilities. Instead of using this time to strengthen democracy, we prefer to invest it in maintaining social networks. There are certainly plenty of opportunities to find out more and take action, but they are not yet sufficiently structured. Even more: The algorithms of the networks present us with the information that corresponds to the mainstream and does not do justice to the complexity of the topics. These unified opinions harm society due to their lack of plurality. There is no complete picture of opinions and it is difficult to form your own.
The younger generation is mostly concerned with themselves
The parties are particularly affected. Why should I be interested in politics when everyone seems to want the same thing? And who has the time and motivation to fight through party programs?
Of course, the parties also bear responsibility here. They have to make better use of their opportunities, make their differences and content shorter and more concise and convey them in a targeted manner via all available channels.
As before, mediation is also carried out through people who have to be role models, because we prefer to avoid unsympathetic people.
Unfortunately, the coverage of many media does not support politics. In many cases there is no argument or discussion. Criticism is not recognized as such because satire and irony are less and less understood in society. Based on my own observation, I can say that especially in the younger generation, sarcasm is often confused with serious argumentation. The media should show alternatives so that the interest grows again to deal critically and solution-oriented with current topics. Only on the basis of comprehensive information with the ability to think in terms of alternatives can exacerbations and one-sided reporting be recognized and classified.
The younger generation is currently more self-absorbed. The search for meaning and the desire to treat yourself to something and to secure yourself financially have become more important than the common good. That is why it is increasingly leaving the political decision-making to the elders. We need the next generation, but there is a lack of this especially in clubs and parties. As the number of volunteers declines, there is a growing fear that the elderly will only make politics for themselves and seek their advantage and that the younger will be left out. What we need is solidarity between the generations - not just for intergenerational justice, but for a functioning democracy. Friendships between the generations must increasingly develop in order to motivate each other and to inspire them for tasks in society in order to be able to tackle them in the future.
Those who move repeatedly have less opportunity to get involved
Life paths have changed: staying at a place of residence or with an employer is no longer the rule. Therefore, many no longer want to be committed to an association in the long term because they do not know how long they can be involved in it. It therefore needs more and new forms of participation. The possibilities must be extended to project-related collaboration in particular. Many people are ready to stand up for a cause if it is limited in time. To this end, a welcoming culture must also be created in the clubs that accepts such commitment.
Our representative bodies also need more participation. Engagement in political parties is an important part of representative democracy - for me personally the best form of democracy. It stands for an open and pluralistic society, for freedom of expression and the renunciation of violence, for a structured representation of interests and civilized debate - if need be, also through rallies and demonstrations.
But the offer of democracy must also be accessible to everyone who lives in Germany and wants to live in the future. At the moment we are experiencing a wave of immigration from people who did not get to know or could not have practiced democracy in their home country. We have to help these people to catch up on this in order to receive the same starting conditions and to be able to participate equally and actively in the future.
This is a big investment that is not cheap but will pay off in the future.
In the past we have proven several times that we can cope with great challenges. We will also master the task of immigration, but everyone must be involved for this.
We cannot foresee every detail of the future. But I will continue to see her with a pinch of optimism.
Silke Mittnacht, born in 1990, takes part in the Democracy Congress of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation on the subject of demography on November 21 in Bonn. Tagesspiegel.de publishes this article as part of a demography discussion in cooperation with the KAS.
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