Why I’m not even slightly scared about the future

I know that no matter how bad things seem now, Gen Z will turn it around, writes an optimistic Femi Oluwole

Femi Oluwole
Thursday 07 December 2023 08:57 GMT
People seeing people, just being people, is making people better
People seeing people, just being people, is making people better (Getty Images)

This might sound strange coming from someone who’s constantly pointing out how catastrophically broken the UK is, but we’re going to be OK. Here’s why:

We’ve learned a lot of lessons in recent years. We know that fixing regional inequality must be a priority, because the anger in forgotten parts of the UK is what drove the Brexit vote. We now know that politicians like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, who took advantage of that anger, were never the answer.

The false narratives that immigration, political correctness and the EU were keeping people poor have been exposed. Labour shortages and Brexit have severely damaged our economy and NHS, making the cost of living crisis and the pandemic even worse. Brits (by a ratio of almost five to one) now see that Brexit has made us poorer.

We’ve seen politicians party at Downing Street during the pandemic. Liz Truss said it was “fair” to give more money to rich people than poor people. Rishi Sunak bragged about defunding poor areas to fund rich ones.

As Gen-Z would say: we’ve forked around and now we’ve found out.

While the country as a whole may have learned those lessons, Gen-Z was born in that classroom. There is no such mantra as “respect for our elders” on politics. When Gen-Z first heard the word “politics”, their parents were already struggling financially. No wonder conservativism is largely dead to that generation.

But Gen-Z didn’t start this trend. Financial Times analysis shows that all the generations above millennial were five points less conservative than the national average at age 30. Millennials, however, are 15-points less conservative than the average, suggesting that the tradition of becoming more conservative as we get older might be over.

For millennials, and especially Gen-Z, the concept of equality is no longer debatable. Our stance, largely, is this: if you don’t want to create a society where a decent life is equally available to women, ethnic minority people, disabled people, working class people, LGBT people, and all the combinations, we don’t want anything to do with you.

The right may complain and calls this “cancel culture”. But Millennials and Gen-Z are already voters, and we’re an increasing percentage of the vote share and of UK consumers. Those in power are increasingly answerable to a population that has no time for bigotry.

Tiktok is a huge part of that. My favourite TikTok video is of a Muslim woman celebrating that her co-worker had only ever really seen Muslims on Tiktok, so : “Her perception of who Muslims are came directly from Muslims existing on Tiktok. It didn’t come from Fox News or Hollywood demonising Muslims.”

Even as a black person, it has been so validating seeing other black comic book nerds on TikTok. The mainstream media chooses the narratives they want to put us in. But social media has allowed people to tell their own stories. It’s much harder to be prejudiced against a minority group when you’ve seen proof they’re just like you. You’re less likely to support invading a country if you just watched its citizens do a makeup tutorial.

People seeing people, just being people, is making people better.

Sure, people like Andrew Tate exist, but they’re the dying gasp of 1950s misogyny. When his target audience, 13-year-old boys, see what liking Andrew Tate does to their dating prospects, the problem will solve itself.

Most importantly, adopting a voting system where everybody’s vote counts equally is now firmly on the agenda. Labour members overwhelmingly support it. The majority of the country supports it. And everyone is so tired of holding their nose to vote Labour or Tory, that we’re desperate for a system with alternatives. Also, proportional voting means we will have governments made of multiple parties. So cooperating with people with different views will be the lifeblood of UK politics, instead of the divisive winner-takes-all scrap we have now.

Given that the majority has voted for parties more left-wing than the Tories in almost every election since WW2, with Gen-Z calling for revolution, when we get a fair voting system, the future is bright!

The majority of the UK supports taxing the rich to help the poor, so that will happen. A clear majority of the UK would vote to rejoin the EU, so that will happen. The majority of the UK supports reducing our carbon emissions to Net Zero, so that will happen.

Things seem bad now, but I’m optimistic. As Martin Luther King once said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”.

This article is part of our ‘independent thinking’ series in partnership with Nationwide. Together we’re celebrating independent thinkers past, present and future, and shining a spotlight on work which demonstrates perfectly what we define as independent thinking. This article is one such work, and we hope it’s got you thinking. If it has and you’re eager to continue, you’ll find more here.

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