Tuned out. Impatient. Apathetic.
When the mainstream media describes the millennial generation, they still use these adjectives. From Bill Maher to Jim Stossel, America's talking heads seem convinced that the nation's youngest voters have given up on shaping their own futures. With respect to these leaders of the Media Status Quo, they're missing the point.
Today's twenty-somethings are civically engaged through volunteerism and community activism in ways previously unimaginable, according to CIRCLE. Just turn on the nightly news and you'll see young people speaking out and standing up for their peers. The idea that young people aren't driving democratic evolution is looking a little pre-Occupy'd these days.
Despite an autumn of history-making street demonstrations, the mainstream media is still running with the "apathetic youth" narrative, and subsequently missing huge opportunities to connect with the rising American electorate. Even President Obama's "hip" administration struggles to connect with young people. While his recent announcement of the Youth Jobs Program aroused some interest in the activist community, recent polls show that Obama is losing the #swag factor with Millennials. No Al Green riff or head-bobbing .gif can make up for the worst employment numbers in our lifetimes.
Thankfully, there is a growing group of young media-makers and activists who are learning to use their social networking platforms to influence the political discussion. In 2012, the spirit of activism is online, which is why the League of Young Voters Education Fund teamed up with AllHipHop.com, Rock the Vote and Sierra Student Coalition to host #BarackTalk, a live-streaming State of the Union Watch Party and discussion that bypasses traditional media and connects directly with the youth of America.
Through the power of Ustream and Twitter, and with the support of the urban blogosphere's biggest outlets, including Bossip.com and GlobalGrind.com, #BarackTalk will wire tens of thousands of young voters into a global conversation that uses the president's speech as a jumping-off point. The interactive discussion will be hosted by up-and-coming rapper and activist Dee-1 and MSNBC's Goldie Taylor, where young voters will use their own social networks to debate the biggest issues of our times.
And guess what? Nobody will twist their arms to participate, or judge them if they don't. At the end of the day, America's youngest voters just need a platform to be heard. We've realized our own power -- and we're using it.
To Tune into the #BarackTalk live stream event, please visit BarackTalk.com on January 24 at 7:30pm EST. or just come back here and watch below.