People often say that ignorance is bliss and that the less you know, the better off you are. In reality, ignorance about the world around us and the issues others are facing is tragically limiting to our development into future leaders. As the next generation of America, we all have responsibilities to the greater international community. We have a responsibility to read the news so that we can make ourselves and others aware of what is going on in the world. We have a responsibility to question new legislation made by our government and to ensure that they represent the beliefs and values of our country. We have a responsibility to stand up for what is right, for what is ethical, and for what is moral. American teens are often treated as incapable young adults who are too disconnected from what is going on around them to make a difference. It’s about time that we start showing our elders that we have our own minds and our own views and that we are prepared to rise to the challenges we will inevitably face.
Some adults would rather dismiss teen voices as immature and uninformed and would rather try to talk for us. What these same adults neglect to understand is that collectively, the youth of this country has a vibrant and colorful voice, we just have trouble finding a platform from which to express our ideas. I, along with many other young adults, thought that social media would be the outlet, the place where we could finally speak our minds and have our voices heard. We didn’t naively believe that social media solely belonged to the youth, but we did believe that social media would give us a chance to have an impact. And in the beginning, social media did give us a chance to have an impact.
For the first time, teens had found a way to directly connect with lawmakers, influencers and organizations. No more writing letters to politicians and hoping that their secretaries would actually pass the message along. No more waiting around to find someone with more power or influence who could help sponsor your brilliant plan for change. Young people had finally uncovered a way to sidestep all of the middlemen and begin to speak out for themselves.
But now it feels like the adults on social media are trying yet again to filter the ideas and opinions of the youth. They are trying to guide and direct the words and actions of young people, to make their voices more “professional” and “mature.” But inadvertently, these tactics end up silencing the youth who are afraid of losing their authenticity.
I fear that if changes are not made to bolster the authentic voice of our youth than our future as a leader in the international community will continue to falter. That is why it is so important for our government and public decision makers to listen to the youths who do speak out and who are trying to foster social change. Not all American teens ignorant to the domestic and international issues facing our country and in reality, a large portion of us are fighting for greater youth empowerment in our society.
So here’s my challenge to all of you millennials out there: take back social media and take back your voice. Post about the issues that matter to you, make other young people aware of why these issues are important and create action. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “Every generation needs a new revolution.” It’s our turn to start the conversation. Let’s make it count.