From Social Media to Social Justice

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If you have paid a visit to Twitter recently, it is easy to see that the millennial generation has plenty of opinions. Every day millions of us tweet our thoughts, feelings, opinions, and grievances.

Participation in social media of all kinds is at an all time high – yet participation in civic affairs is at an all time low.

In the 2012 presidential elections, 45% of Americans aged 18-29 years old actually registered to vote. In the same year, 89% of Americans in the same age group were using social media of some kind.

The amazing thing is, many of these social media users in the millennial generation are using it as a platform for in civic discussions. We are actively aware of politics, upcoming elections, and current events. We tweet about them, post pictures, and add hashtags so they can reach out to other people tweeting about them. So why aren’t we going out to the polls and voting to actually make these changes happen? Why are we more comfortable tweeting about politicians than actually going to the polls?

For one thing, it is a lot easier to pick up your phone and update your social media page than it is to take the time to register to vote and then head to the polls every November. But even so, based on social media it seems that far more than 45% of the millennial generation cares about these things.

What comes to mind is issues of social justice. In recent times, social injustices such as the bombing in Paris and the killings in Nigeria have sparked millions of social media conversations. Our world has so many issues to discuss, and there are civic platforms available for Americans who wish to implement change. These are lessons taught in our schools. Millennials should know about their options to vote, write their congresspeople, participate in local councils, campaign for legislature, and create petitions.

So why aren’t we taking advantage of these options? No one can know for sure. I think that in part, my generation feels these pathways are powerless. Many of us believe that even if we do vote, it won’t matter. A lot of millennials think petitions and letters to congress will be worthless and ignored. So we instead turn to social media, where we can garner an immediate response though likes, favorites, shares, and retweets.

I think a way to turn this around is to meet the millennial generation where they are. It should be easier to break into political discussions for young people who want to get engaged on a civic level. Imagine more city councils opening Twitter accounts and allowing residents to tweet at them, or if Obama hired someone to respond to every legitimate tweet sent in. Meeting millennials where we are would create a more welcoming civic atmosphere. More millennials would feel comfortable expressing their passion for social justice and feel more compelled to speak out.

What do you think about the millennial generation’s political involvement? Let us know in the comments!

Editorial Intern for Beauty Coated Life

Nutrition Student and Health Educator at NC State University
Avid reader, aspiring author, and health enthusiast
Passionate about women’s health and global equality

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