Media-obsessed teens. More specifically, social media-obsessed teens. It is a fond term often used to refer to the wonderful millennial generation. Despite the negative connotation of the phrase, the truth of it is that it isn't really creating any negative effects.
Over the past three years or so, the generation unable to vote has become increasingly involved in the political conversation. The United States of America, partisan as it is, allows for the youth to be engaged enough to form political opinions long before they are told they should.
"Media has become the center
of our cultural identity."
The 2016 election and the 2017 presidential transition saw a significant spike in politically charged social media posts. And a decent number of them can be accredited to people under the age of 18.
There are two factors which combined have become the cause for social media political involvement and activism: a media-centric society and an absurdly heated political climate.
Ever since the dawn of internet and television, media has majorly impacted how American society has behaved and evolved. Media has become the center of our cultural identity. It, as an entity, determines what we see as priorities in our daily lives. Media is what sets the stage for America.
The rise in social and interactive media has allowed the American people to flip the script. Based on what affects each of us in our daily lives, we now have the ability to change the priorities of the media. Regardless of who is controlling the conversation, the general public or the media moguls, all of America is tuning in to listen.
"Their obsession is with personal identity rather than image."
The importance of and reliance on media may be the only thing that both major political parties in the United States can agree on. The divide between the Republicans and Democrats has widened to become a canyon in recent years, and compromise seems improbable on every issue. America in its current state isn't sustainable and everyone has their own ideas about how to improve the situation: make progress or revert. Either way, change is needed.
The 2016 Presidential Election had more immediate implications for teens than has any other recent cycle. Understanding that their voices ultimately wouldn’t matter in the outcome of the election due to their age and assumed maturity level, American teens took to social media to be heard.
After being battered and ridiculed by mainstream media for years for their obsession with social media, teens and adolescents proved that their obsession is with personal identity rather than image. The political conversations sparked by teens through social media had more substance than either of the presidential candidates’ Twitter feeds. Even after election, President Trump isn’t using social media in the most advantageous way possible.
"We will be heard or they will be voted out."
Since it’s become clear that they don’t have the ear of federal government officials, teens have turned to their most trusted confidantes: each other. Starting a political dialogue without the manipulative rhetoric of career politicians is the best weapon they have against future attempts at political maneuvering.
While the politicians on Capitol Hill are sitting behind closed doors deciding the fate of the American people, American teens are sitting in front of their phone screens deciding the fate of those politicians. In dialogue with their peers, teens are having the chance to refine their political values and become educated on issues that don’t directly affect them, but affect their friend across the country.
For the government officials paying no mind to voters of the future, their fate is sealed. There's no longer an option to assume that young voters are uneducated and easily manipulated. There's no longer an option to ignore the generation of next-cycle voters. We will be heard or they will be voted out.
Cover Photo credit: Zoe Fleck.