Does my generation care about political decision-making?
I have many friends in the tech-industry who love to say how “politics and technology should be kept as far apart from each other as possible”. As much as I agree with the thought of not bringing the bureaucracy and slowness of political decision-making into technology, the collision of technology and politics is quite inevitable. That’s why it is more important then ever for young leaders to stay aware, what is happening in politics worldwide.
In November, Silicon Valley had to finally wake up and acknowledge the rest of the world. Donald Trump had been selected as the U.S president elect and tech couldn’t stay outside of politics anymore. Trump being selected as the president caused several different reactions: According to Chris Sacca, the U.S had fallen into an “an absolute unmitigated crisis”.
In December several tech leaders met Trump in order to discuss how Silicon Valley and the new administration could work together. In January, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg finally took a stand against Trump’s executive order reinstituting a so-called global gag rule that prevents nongovernmental organizations from receiving U.S. aid if they perform or even discuss abortions. Suddenly, politics and technology had collided. Silicon Valley had begun to mobilize.
According to Greg Satell, in the core of the difficult relationship between politics and Silicon Valley is the idea that the tech-industry can create positive change in the world through the innovations that they produce more effectively than through political action.
In many cases I believe this is true. Companies such as Elon Musk’s Space X and Tesla shouldn’t collide with political decision-making. But in some cases, when we are discussing problems such as homeless people in the streets of San Francisco, health care in the entire U.S or U.S aid in the developing countries, innovations and political decision-making should collide. How can these two, tech and political action, work together to solve the biggest problems our humanity is facing right now? Even if the technology for the solutions is already available, we haven’t figured out how to harness both political action as well as business to work together.
While my generation exhibits more faith in community volunteering and entrepreneurship in general, we set historically low marks for trust in government, according to a Harvard University’s Institute of Politics survey. I have had several discussions with friends who have complained that they don’t really understand political decision-making and they have no idea how to make an impact in the society themselves.
According to my mother, in the 1970’s everything was political. She was a young student at the faculty of media and journalism in a prestigious Finnish university and according to her “everyone had to have a political opinion about everything”. I love having these historically reflecting discussions with her since she is able to describe a society and time that I haven’t really witnessed myself.
In the Nordics, our generation hasn’t grown up under a similar, pressing atmosphere where you “have to be political about everything”. Yes, we have a lot of opinions but we have found different and innovative ways to express ourselves. For example in Finland we have several different parties with different agendas and it’s not that easy to put people into specific boxes regarding their political opinions. And I believe that is a good thing. The world has never been black and white — all the interesting stuff lies in they grey areas.
This TED-talk by Robb Willer concludes beautifully how we can argument better and bridge the political divide.
The writer is part of global Millenial Bloggers featured in the Huffington Post.