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.