Monday, January 30, 2017

Blog Three: Youth Involvement in Politics

By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism discusses the fact that today's youth are more engaged with the political process than one would initially believe.  It challenges the argument that millennials are not civically involved.  

With today's technology, it is easier than ever for young people to be a part of the process, no matter how indirect it may be.  For instance, young people may not write a handwritten letter of grievances to congress, but they quickly share something pertaining to such a grievance via social media, bringing more awareness to the topic than ever before.

The authors explain how many millennials are engaged online and volunteering for many social causes, but because of their low voter turnout, even such engagement is somewhat marginalized.  I understand how this could be cause for concern.  I may share something on Facebook or Instagram, but I understand that any actual change goes beyond this social media post.  The actual change begins at the voting booth, and millennials could account for such change by taking that extra step.  

On the other hand, this book explains how even though these young people may not vote in elections, they are still responsibly sharing content among other voters who may take into account what their younger friends have shared.  This is actually a big step of the democratic process, and social media is intensifying the importance of such posts.          

The young people discussed in the book vary in age, from high school to college.  This is an interesting dynamic.  In a sense, the authors wanted a true picture of youth activism, even among those who cannot vote yet.  This gave their writing another element necessary for understanding youth activism.  Their civic participation is driven by a desire to seek real change.  Their efforts have the potential to make such change among their older friends who may read their posts and keep them in mind while traveling to the polls.  Some would argue that this young of a demographic should not have been included in the authors' research, but I disagree.  High school is where we initially develop ourselves politically, and we want our voices heard, even if they can't yet be heard at the polls.   

While many people believe that sharing political content on social media is not the right avenue to seek real social change, they should remember than many of the social changes brought about in the last decade have started online.  They should think about movements such as #BlueLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter as just a few of the examples of how effective social media can be.  These platforms not only increase the discussion about desired social change, but they also give more people the opportunity to freely exercise their First Amendment rights - at any age.  

This book provides the information that proves that the millennial generation has the power to change U.S. public policies for generations.  This stunning fact should speak volumes to older folks who are quick to judge what impact millennials are having on the civic process. 

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