‘Youthquake’ and the Turkish youth

‘Youthquake’ and the Turkish youth

Published for 150 years and considered to be the main dictionary source in the English language, the Oxford English Dictionary chose “youthquake” as its “Word of the Year” in 2017.

It defined the word as a noun meaning “a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people.”

The word is important as it reminds us the changing power of a youth that has been systematically rendered nearly apolitical in recent decades.

What is the situation of the youth in our country, where the age to elect and be elected has been lowered to 18, where politicians dream of social engineering and keep providing their own recipe for the youth in their speeches and statements?

Fatoş Karahasan from Istanbul’s Bilgi University recently published a book called: “Make Way, the Youngsters are Coming.” It is based on a survey by Sia İnsight, which involved 45-minute interviews with 2,000 youngsters aged between 15 and 24.

The book describes how 95 percent of Turkish youths, supposedly designed to “conquer the world,” do not even have a passport. Some 88 percent of those who have no passports do not even plan to get one.

And even if they were to go abroad, what would they do? In Turkey the education system is continually changed but has failed to teach a basic foreign language to 89 percent of students. When compared with other countries’ young people, our children keep failing in all courses - from mathematics to simply understanding what they are reading.

Is that their fault? Of course not.

If you raise a generation that questions things, it will want to leave the country for more opportunities. If you expect unconditional obedience, it will crash.

Some 64 percent of those surveyed by Sia Insight have not even heard of artificial intelligence. Some 72 percent have never been to a library.

So is there no hope? Of course there is.

Youth is by its nature a dynamic, curious mass that questions bans and remains open to changes.

There are currently bans on Uber, PayPal, Wikipedia and scores of other websites in Turkey. Some suggest that only “Westernized, modern, degenerate, anarchist” youths are bothered by these bans. But let me advise them to take into consideration the fact that a deep wave will come to the surface sooner or later from the conservative youth base they trust so much.

Do you think that Ezhel, the Turkish rapper recently jailed, is only listened to by youths who have the “tendency to want to use drugs?”
Ezhel is a fantastic musician and songwriter who produced the best album of last year. His songs talk about poverty, injustice, alienation and desperation. Sending him to jail for “encouraging drug use” is nothing short of ridiculous. What’s more, it has only got his name out more, massively boosting his fans

He has entered jail as a musician with the power of 10 tigers; he will leave it with the power of 1,000 tigers.

Take care Ezhel, with my best wishes...