Euromaidan and Youth’s New Way of Thinking

Photo: Ivano-Frankivsk students at Euromaidan. Illustration for Bogdana Poberezhna's "Euromaidan and Youth's New Way of Thinking"
Ivano-Frankivsk students at Euromaidan. Source: versii.if.ua

Bogdana Poberezhna
Faculty of Natural Sciences,
Environmental Studies (Ecology),
Master Program (1st year)
From Kyiv city

Euromaidan is, for sure, the most lively and discussed event of the past 20 years. Moreover, it will stay the most memorable for Independent Ukraine’s history. Maidan protest started as a student strike, but united people from all over the world. People from all regions of Ukraine took part in protest, part of them came to Independence Square; others – were supporting or observing it on TV. On the one hand, student strikes were numerous in the history of European countries and they were able to bring changes, and the same happened in Ukraine, which was a signal of changes in society. On the other hand, Euromaidan is the event which a new generation was waiting for to reveal its political priorities, attitude to authorities, and information exchange manner.
Only in the past years it became visible that young people are taking predominant part in politics and policy-making. It was thought that young people do not care about political events at all because they did not watch news and read newspapers. For people born in late 1980-s, it was a kind of anti-fashion to be interested in politics. It seems to me that 90-s were specific, especially for young people, because a brand-new pop culture captured their imagination. Moreover, for elder people who had Soviet habits, it was totally unnecessary to take care about politics because they did not have choice and all decisions were made due to authorities’ interests. But now, we see that predominant part of Euromaidan organization was taken by students of universities and young people from public organizations. So, Maidan protests show that generation of the youth born in Ukraine has become mature, and now they can make conscious decisions and take part in political life actively.
Another thing which is for sure visible is about changes in the people’s attitude to authorities, deputies and politicians. In the Soviet Union, power was held by people of the only one official Communist party, and all those who did not support its decisions were violently punished for dissidence: long-term imprisoned or executed. Even dissident’s family members were victimized, which was bringing fear in society. It seems to me that it was safe to be obedient and politically passive. As soon as Ukraine became independent and gained a democratic political order, its citizens became able to make choices. Yet, I think, only recently could the most of Ukrainians realize that politicians and deputies are ordinary people. Especially local communities can make great influence on what authorities are doing, because those deputies are people who they know personally. Even more, large-scale politicians also remain usual people, who can be changed and influenced. Maidan proved that any authority can be changed. We remember how tragic were the events, how many people were killed, and how many were injured, but any system can be knocked down. So, especially young people and students gained brand new experience and perception on authorities’ and government’s nature.
Protests as an organized process needed a new type of information exchange, but even more, information perception changed. It is known that most of information about protests and demonstrations was spread using social networks. Of course, this is an expectable shift of technology use because computer technologies and internet are used every day especially by young people. Most of my mates do not watch TV at all, and do not use it as a source of information. More usual way to get data about recent situation is, of course, Internet. Recently, it can be noticed that people, not only students, pay attention to the quality of information because they are checking many sources and prefer to formulate own impression and opinion. That is why a shift was made from receiving made-up mass-media verdict to making one’s own conclusions, especially when it comes to politics.
As a result, I would say that Maidan did not make a difference in the young people’s way of thinking, their attitude to politics, politicians, and political information, but was an occasion to reveal the new characteristics of a generation grown up in the independent country. Euromaidan did not make us part of European Union and did not make other countries think about Ukraine as part of what they consider Europe, but showed these are citizens who are making their country, not politicians. It brought new opportunities and showed that true democracy is possible in the country which for a long time had been imprisoned with Soviet totalitarianism.

This essay is part of a series of student writing on the Euromaidan, part of the the Student Views of Euromaidan project.

For more information on this series and a full index of contributions, please see the introductory post.

 

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