In the age of tweets, Instagram posts and Facebook invites, many argue today’s youth is more interested in social media and the technology that accompanies it than what is going on in real life. While this belief is understandable, it’s also worth noting how technology and social media have helped launch several political movements, and continue to contribute to political activism among young people.
One of the most recent examples of using social media as a political platform has been with the student survivors of the Parkland, Florida shooting.
Several students who survived the shooting have responded to both President Donald Trump and conservative politicians, calling for more gun control on Twitter, Facebook and through other forms of social media.
One of the more famous responses has over 50,000 retweets, originally tweeted by CNN.
“They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS!” Florida high school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez calls on President Trump and lawmakers to tighten gun restrictions in impassioned speech at an anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale https://t.co/DgnqrrVs9x
— CNN (@CNN) February 17, 2018
The tweet is a powerful video of Emma Gonzalez, a student survivor of the shooting, calling for gun reform and more restrictive gun laws at an anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
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This political activism is also present on our own campus. With the recent implementation of a new dining plan purchase requirement for freshmen living in residence halls in the 2018-2019 school year, students came together and organized a protest at Gordon Dining Center to voice their frustration. The protest included students blocking the entrance to the food stations, holding signs and chanting “I can’t eat.” It’s important to recognize that before the invention of social media, these types of protest might not have had the same momentum as they do now.
With the Wisconsin spring primary having recently taken place, there has also been a surge in using social media to encourage young adults to vote. Public officials, celebrities and even friends and neighbors made social media posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram advertising the election, and urging students to go vote.
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Overall, it is clear that both on a local and national scale, social media and technology have helped to further political movements and political activism, especially in young people. While there will always be adults who claim the younger generations like millennials are too glued to their phones, tablets and computers, the reality is that these devices are actually helping inspire political action.
With the state of our country right now, we need all the people we can, including young adults, to become a voice in our nation’s political future — and if that means 280 characters, so be it.
Courtney Degen ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in political science and intending to major in journalism.