When you logged onto Instagram this past week, what did you see? Halloween posts, some fall activities, and maybe some miscellaneous birthday posts, but there’s a very high chance that most of your feed was flooded with the madness of the election. Posts such as reminders to vote, criticisms of the opposing candidates, and scrutiny on Amy Coney Barrett made their way into everyone’s social media accounts. This past month would’ve been uneventful without the hubbub of the election ringing in your ears and it being present everywhere you turned.
Now, there’s a common theme present in most of these posts, and that is that they were produced by members of our own generation. Millions of teenage Americans decreased their reliance on the news as a means of information about politics, and instead began to rely on their own “For You” pages. CNN was put on the back-burner as we tuned to Instagram lives and tweets by endorsers and candidates themselves.
In a quest to understand just how accessible politics became, I went out and asked some of our fellow HSW students how politics has infiltrated their social media feeds, and how it has affected their views. Jennifer Kaplan (11) and Sydney Levinton (11) both contributed their opinions. First, I asked them how they thought the media had portrayed each candidate. Jennifer noticed that her feeds were heavily left-leaning, denouncing Trump on the whole. Sydney, on the other hand, said that each candidate was portrayed differently based on the source, so she got an even mix of them both. Then, I asked them if they thought their political views had changed at all with all of this information being thrown at them. Jennifer said that she didn’t involve herself much in politics before, but after this new rise in popularity of politics on her social media, she couldn’t resist educating herself a little bit more about it. Sydney reflected that her views didn’t change at all. Additionally, I asked if this new information had peaked their interest or brought awareness to a certain issue. Jennifer felt the topic of abortion and the pro-choice vs. pro-life argument appeared pretty often, so she did some research into the issue. Sydney, however, didn’t feel like she was exposed to any new or interesting topics that she wasn’t aware of before. Finally, I asked if they had ever cross-checked the credibility of their information with any mainstream news sources such as CNN or Fox News. Jennifer claimed that while those news stations often play in the background when viewed by her parents, she pretty much solely relies on social media to deliver her information. In contrast, Sydney does regularly verify the information with more traditional news sources as mentioned above.
It should be enlightening to see this activity, as Generation Z is becoming more and more relevant. We’re using our voices and our platforms, however big or small they are, to create real change within our country. The infiltration of social media into almost every facet of our lives increases our awareness of the issues occurring around us. So the next time you’re swiping through your feed and see a political post, don’t groan and roll your eyes, instead, take advantage of the information at your fingertips and be appreciative that you’re part of the generation that’s revolutionizing politics.