I think we have all become aware that more and more young people are taking an interest in politics and current affairs within the past few years. This is not to say that young people have never been interested in the news and politics before but I feel like after all the major political decisions; the controversial presidential election, Brexit decisions and the recent general election in the UK. I have seen my social media flooded with passionate posts, a lot of them by young people. It led me to consider why so many people feel empowered and are engaging in political discussions and attending protests.
By young people, I’m talking about a majority which fall into the 16-25 bracket, ‘millennials’ as they are generally regarded. I believe the central reason why young people, like myself, are so well informed and are interested is through social media. Various platforms like Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram allow the circulation of information in an unprecedented way. A video or post can be shared globally in a matter of minutes, allowing us to hear peoples stories and communicate with people who we may normally never get a chance to speak to. It allows both ‘sides’ of a narrative to be explored.
Through social media, we have access to information which may not get shown on news channels and more traditional news outlets, it is diverse and uncontrollable. In some instances this causes harm as fake stories can go viral and potentially ruin someones life, however when it is used with good intentions, it is a source of power. In a year where ‘fake news’ has become a widely used term, a meme if you will, social media is the place where the difference between the genuine and the false is apparent. No longer are people just tuning into the nightly news coverage, more and more people are cross referencing and reading more than merely accepting information at face value.
Obviously as well as the positives with social media being used by many to educate themselves and others, it is also a tool which can rapidly get out of hand. Some people find themselves attacked for their opinion or views and it can be quite unpleasant. I would prefer more open discussions but at times sensitive material or issues can be polarising and people tend to pick a side, if you will. I always encourage people and also practice this myself; finding out information and making my own opinion rather than blindly following.
The role of social media and the politicisation or awakening of young people is certainly tied together and I can only imagine it getting more powerful as the years go by. I hear a lot of people suggesting that young people don’t take an interest but if the recent statistics of young voters is anything to go by, this is untrue. This is also not to suggest that young people should be rewarded for voting, it is something that I believe we should all take part in, regardless of age. But it is an encouraging sign that more are taking an interest and being pro active. We are motivated, we care and we are taking steps forward.
Until next time,
(All Photo creds to users on Unsplash)