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How Social Media Alters Young Minds

Sophie Rollins, Editor

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Amongst this year’s election and controversy circulating the internet, social media has a great effect on how teenagers and young adults view politics.  Over Twitter and Instagram, many people just scratch the surface on politics and the impact it has on our country. It is often evident that many people don’t even research politicians or their policies before they add their voice to the din. For example, the surface level perceptions of Trump and Hillary from those that oppose them are that he’s a bigot and she’s a liar.

While both positions may contain kernels of truth, the blanket accusations merely scratch the surface and don’t add the context that can turn candidate-bashing into conversation. You simply cannot argue about politics when you don’t know the facts or only have seen snippets of debates and speeches posted on Twitter.

Not being aware and educated about both perspectives can create a bias and further ignorance – impeding discussion with someone from the opposite political party. Often on social media, we see people who want to express their opinions freely, but cannot abide the opinions contrary to their own.

The truth of the matter is that everyone develops their own beliefs, and without proper communication between different groups, hate and lack of acceptance will become more normal than love and supporting each other’s rights to individuality.

“In today’s society, people just don’t have respect for one another. Everyone has different opinions, and instead of discussing things with an open mind, people just shut each other out and tell each other that they’re wrong,” said Hamid Taymuree (12).

When discussing such controversial and frustrating topics, it is always important to keep an open mind. Even though one may be a part of the Republican Party, that doesn’t mean they are part of the stereotypes built by the people of the opposing party. It is a big issue in American culture that people are not comfortable to converse about important events taking place in our country without taking in all perspectives. Social media is a big factor in this. The media, collecting all different groups of people, often cannot take in all sides to an argument. Sure, no one will tolerate a bigot whose main objective is to put down others and make American citizens feel alienated. But it is crucial that to have equality between all people that we respect each other’s differences.

By creating an atmosphere of “I’m right and you’re wrong”, American people will always be divided. Social media has snippets of debates, speeches, news clips, etc. Posts on twitter and other media sites can often just give you a portion of what the person is saying and completely flip it around. And it’s completely unhealthy for a teenager to believe everything they see on Twitter and not go out and research a topic to produce their own opinion.

“Social Media taught to me think one way, but once I actually did my own research, my opinion totally shifted. You can’t trust what the media shows you,” said Billy Woodin (12).

Social Media is a melting pot of opinions. It has people from all spectrums colliding and debating about issues and topics. However, on social media, you often see that people tend to shut others down before hearing them out. If you’re a Trump supporter, you’re a racist. If you support Hillary, well, you’re just stupid. This year’s election has caused people who are usually passionate about politics to sit back and be shy simply because they fear that people will attack them because they don’t agree with the opinions they have.

Which, in my opinion, is completely unfair.

The amazing thing about this country is our right to freedom of speech and opinion. By being able to express one’s beliefs through social media, you can easily converse about issues surrounding our society and government. It is a right to be able to put your opinion out there and show others your perspective.

By having the power to spread news such fast throughout your friends and family, we are more than capable of using our ability to educate others in a positive way. The fact that it’s often shamed upon to share an unpopular opinion is unfair to the people attempting to make a point. This year’s election, for one, collides some of the most closed-minded people. During the times where it is crucial to be very careful who you vote for to be the next president, it is important to be able to discuss topics regarding the candidates with an open mind. Sadly, it is difficult to share an opinion without being attacked.

If you’re a Trump supporter, you should have more facts as to why you’re supporting him other than “I don’t like Hillary” or “I don’t like illegal immigration.” While it is valid to have such opinions, it is very important to be able to explain why you believe the things you do.

If you only vote for Hillary because you’re a woman, and you want to see a woman president, but you personally know nothing about her campaign or the controversies surrounding her, you can’t argue with anyone on the opposing side. To have an open-minded, educated, and constructive conversation about such important things taking place in our country, you need to be able to see both sides.

The basic foundation of being able to converse with others about important things is being educated on what you’re discussing. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s very difficult to have an argument that will lead to understanding and compromise. Researching a topic before discussing it will strengthen your argument. you can help them understand your perspective even if they don’t agree with it.

It is a right in our country to be able to think for ourselves and discuss things from our own perspective. The ability to discuss a topic from your personal opinion and speak out about it is a privilege compared to other countries. Respecting other’s rights to freedom of speech and hearing out their personal opinion is what can construct a positive, educated country.

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How Social Media Alters Young Minds