Political Involvement Requires More Than Social Media Posts

Political Involvement Requires More Than Social Media Posts

To be an active member of the tumultuous political society requires a conscious, constant effort.
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You log onto Twitter and amidst the memes that make you chuckle and the vine threads you could spend forever scrolling through, there lies a seemingly misplaced political tweet with only a few likes and many capital letters and exclamation points. We’ve all been there: sometimes it's Twitter, other times it's Facebook. People post their heated rants with the thought they will change opinions, and we continue scrolling.

It makes sense that these posts are in abundance. Older generations have scorned our generation for not being politically active, and we have platforms to share our views right at our fingertips. So uploading our ideas to the site of our choosing seems like a step up. But we are going about it all the wrong way.

To begin with, there is an overwhelming amount of counterproductive name-calling that further polarizes individuals from opposing parties, discouraging bipartisan thoughts—the thoughts that accomplish goals and bring much-needed compromise. The mudslinging comes from both sides. The right shames the left, the left shames the right, and so on. Internal conflicts also arise, turning those with common goals against each other.

Following the name calling, a slew of opinions without facts to back them up litter our feeds. With sparse information to backup harsh insults, friends with differing viewpoints are enraged while friends with similar thoughts remain unchanged. So you watched the news for twenty minutes and heard one company broadcast one headline. You are not an expert. A lot of your friends have stopped reading the feisty rant.

What progress has been made? Those who liked your post already thought exactly the same way. Little progress has been made in that regard. Acquaintances that fall into the grouping of people you bashed find themselves upset and dismissive of your views (and quite possibly your friendship). Others disregarded your post entirely, and the audience you can reach grows smaller.

Yet, you smile. Your duty as an attentive citizen has been taken care of.

As a fellow young adult in today's social media driven society, I urge you to reexamine your political involvement.

Have you looked at sources from multiple vantage points? Have you challenged your own opinions by turning to media that caters to an audience that is not your own? Have you tried having an adult conversation with someone you disagree with?

That means no name calling, listening to what the other has to say and using facts to back up what you believe.

If you are screaming from the mountain tops for change and wonder how it will come about, ask yourself the following: have you called your senators or congressmen? Have you written letters to government officials or lobbying agencies? I'm not saying you must. We all have busy lives with a vast array of priorities. I would be hypocritical saying you must. But if you sit there scratching your head, wondering what you have the power to do, there's a start. There are many more activities to participate in; only a little research on your part is necessary.

What I am asking you is to reconsider your political involvement, and to think before you post. Are you merely hitting “tweet” and checking off a duty on your to-do list? Is what you are adding to the never-ending landscape of the internet productive?

To be an active member of the tumultuous political society requires a conscious, continuous effort. It requires one to keep up with current events, perform a bit of research and hold engaged discussions on pressing topics. The world needs the younger voting population to take an interest in politics. The world needs those interested to educate themselves.

Don't be quiet. Be smart. Inform yourself, and when you speak up, your voice will pack a punch.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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Dear America, We Can Step Forward As A Country If We Stop Believing That Only One Belief Is Valid

It's time to promote unity and emphasize our commonalities because only through unity can we step forward as a country.

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Dear America,

2018 was a year of political strife and conflict. The left and the right fought constantly. Republicans and Democrats blamed each other for the tiniest mistakes, and there were only a small number of successful bipartisan deals. Politicians and citizens alike seemed more concerned with sticking to party platforms, even ones they truly didn't believe in, rather than compromising with the other side to improve our society.Yet all this name-calling and hatred — what does it do in the end? What does it accomplish?

We've only seen an increased polarization of American politics and an expanded hostility towards "the other side." We don't consider the well-being of each and every person in America and the bettering of our society, or the building of a stronger world for our children and grandchildren.

We spend so much time insulting each other's political beliefs that we forget probably the most important fact that links us all together: We are all human. We all share the same basic needs, the same struggles, the same moments of happiness and sadness.

And yet we are willing to put our similarities aside and only focus on our differences. We are willing to thrust ourselves into the deep anger and loathing that comes in attacking those different from us. We are willing to parry insults behind the safety of a phone screen and forget all about what makes us alike. And we are willing to gloss over the fact that we have more similarities than differences.

SEE ALSO: Dear Trump, Thanks For Transforming Me Into A Responsible, Educated Citizen

Yes, political beliefs make a person. Political beliefs define the values, ideas and thoughts of a person. But sometimes, we have to reach over those beliefs, as hard as that may be, and focus on the bigger picture at hand. What will insulting someone because of those beliefs do? It definitely won't change their views or make them see things from your point of view.

It's sad and frustrating that this endless fighting doesn't even occur between two countries or two governments or two nation-states. Instead, we see arguments and strife between two family members, two neighbors or even two strangers, all living in the same community and under the same government, all sharing more similarities than differences.

We need to stop focusing so much on singular ideas. We need to stop believing in the close-minded idea that only one thought is the best thought. And instead of wasting energy trying to change other's opinions, we need to use that energy and time to promote unity and emphasize our commonalities.

These past few years have truly divided America. Let's make 2019 a year of unity, because only through unity can we step forward as a country.

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