Friday, 1 February 2013

Cyber World or the Real World?- Ibrahim jaffar

The Youth and their Perspective on Spatial Development

Internet has evolved from being a mere search engine; it has become a “sanctuary” for the youth of today. Facebook and Twitter are only some of the social networking sites that have their young minds preoccupied: they post status updates about the new kid on the block, they blog when they want to rant about bad grades or heartaches, they send “tweets” or short messages to their idols to get an “RT” (re-tweet), and post pictures of things they own on Instagram. The addicting routine of typing and clicking has the average teenager voluntarily confine himself/herself in the comfort of his/her room. But is this enough to completely rob the youth of the vision to see beyond their laptop computers? Do they even have the time – and the heart – to make a difference in the city they live in?

A series of participatory workshops conducted by Sintana Vergara and Julianne Baker Gallegos of World Bank proved that not all members of the youth sector have fallen prey to the allures of the cyber world.  In an effort to find out what attributes the youth want to see in his/her respective city come 2025, Vergara and Gallegos interviewed low-income to professional youth of age 15 to 30, residing in Tokyo, Manila, Bangkok, and Washington DC. In the course of the workshops, the interviewees were made to describe their city using just one word, answer questions about how they visualize their city in pairs, and asked to submit photos that depict the city they live in.

My faith in today’s younger generation was restored upon seeing the results of the study. Majority of the participants actually desire to affect change in their communities – some even came up with individual actions on how to implement these changes. These actions all depend on the unique experiences the interviewees have as members of society. The results also showed that the youth want their cities to eventually practice sustainable consumption, grant its citizens mobility, be habitable, be secure, be free of pollution, be run by competent government officials, be resilient, provide basic necessities and opportunities to the citizens, and to exhibit high levels of human capital. Each attribute previously listed were heavily influenced by what the youth feels is missing from his/her beloved city. Those from Manila and Washington DC, for example, ranked poverty and access to basic commodities and opportunities as the most important attributes of the said cities.

The advent of technology brought with it convenience, and a string of possibilities that continues to bridge gaps and make differences across the globe. Power has definitely shifted to our fingertips, giving us the chance to do great things with it. Looking at the big picture, it is the youth who has the bigger responsibility, as every choice he/she makes may lead to a reshaping of the physical and systemic aspects of the nation. In a world that has fast been engulfed by an all-encompassing “net”, knowing that its future leaders still harbor the dream of making the world a better place to live in is, in itself, a reassuring nod to those of us who have been doing our duty to maintain stability in our own communities.

Reference: Global youth assert their visions for the city of 2025. Retrieved 27 November 2012, at

Ibrahim Jaffar is a professional Photographer. Ibrahim jaffar also loves to talk about technology. Ibrahim jaffar is technology enthusiastic and keen learner.

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