Cania Citta Irlanie has used her YouTube channel to engage with the country’s youth on political issues. A graduate of the University of Indonesia, she began her career as a writer for a number of media outlets which then led to her work as editor at the news website Geotimes. Now, she is one of the We the Youth community organisation’s ambassadors. NOW!Jakarta spoke to her about the current political climate and her take on the situation with prospective young voters.
Tell us about your work as political content creator on Youtube with Geo Live
I started with writing articles but they were very academic. My articles were not widely read. At that time, I wrote for myself and didn’t really care if people understood it, until people at Geotimes saw my writing and asked me to be among the editors for social-political news. Back then, I was asked to manage Geotimes’ YouTube channel, Geo Live, and input socio-political content since and I have done that for two years now. Previously, Geo Live offered long documentary features under Watchdoc created by Dandhy Dwi Laksono. We have been trying to understand Youtube audiences and started to generate content for general audiences, and to grab younger generation.
I have been learning by doing that because my background is more into writing rather than video. Since then, I’ve been motivated to educate people about social-political issues. My team and I understand that YouTube is a platform to engage with people and invite them to join the conversation. Many people, especially the young generation, know the issues but they don’t always understand the details. Here, we speak their language to convey a greater understanding of political matters.
What have you learned from producing socio-political content on YouTube?
The conversation happens right there. I get to know what people think and their mindset. We also make improvements along the way in how we provide content. Now, Geo Live audiences are between 17 and 24 years old. They’re our biggest audience. Our content has shifted to cater to a younger demographic and build dialogue at the same time. We try to engage people who are eligible to participate in politics and who need to be educated about the issues.
How do you see the younger generation in terms of their engagement with politics?
We are getting there and I am very optimistic about the future generation. My goal is to increase awareness and make them participate in political discourse. That’s why I created content in a casual way and at the same time let them know the urgency of their participation. I take politics not only as a practical process but also from a societal perspective including matters like food security, education, and issues like technology.
What are you planning to do to increase public engagement for the upcoming General Election?
My team and I are now focusing on three campaigns. We are encouraging young people to vote by making them aware of the presidential debates and getting to know the candidates more. We’re also encouraging them to observe candidates for the House of Representatives as these elected officials will determine the regulations that will guide us.
Here is what I say. This country will still be around next year. If you decide not to vote, you will still pay tax but if you are caught breaking a law, it may be a law that you didn’t like, a law that maybe you could have voted against if you had voted for a politician whose policies you agreed with. That’s why the House elections are urgent. We could see from the recent national legislation to regulate the music industry. How it is very urgent for us and home grown artists. Most importantly, we cannot be lazy as we have to deal with many political parties that hope to keep their seats in the DPR.
What are you most concerned about first time voters and experienced young voters?
We have to make sure that first time voters are excited about voting and we need to show them the process. In my experience, the young generation wants candidates who are clear about their vision. Now, it happens with incumbent candidates that people compromise and they end up being confused. Candidates could lose votes from young voters if one considers someone who does not represent them clearly. That’s why millenials and Gen Z voters are more likely to respect officials like former governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama who remained consistent from the beginning until the time he was put on trial.
Can the young generation have a major influence during the upcoming election, similar to the youth movements around the globe?
They can. I’d say, just use your voice, especially on social media. If we care about ourselves, we can be critical of political candidates but don’t engage in hate speech. We can speak and build a conversation based on analysis. We can change the candidate’s direction if our voice is bigger and this is what makes it a democracy. Don’t allow people who take the lead in the administration to be unproductive like what happened in the last regional elections.
How would you advise the young generation?
We might live a privileged and comfortable life where we don’t need to think about government policy. But we must think about other people whose lives depend on it. I came from a working class family and public facilities are really important to me because I don’t have a car or a motorcycle. If you feel that the elections don’t directly influence your life, please think about the people to whom these things matter. That’s our role.