Politicians have long struggled to secure the votes of young people.
After all, year after year, young voters are the least likely to cast ballots on Election Day. And, with technology advancing at unprecedented speeds, keeping up with Millennials is harder now than ever before.
The advent of social media introduced a new era of journalism, access to information and political engagement.
People began to learn, discuss and deliberate ideologies from the comfort of their homes. And, as the realm of debate changed, so did the debates themselves.
Today, our political atmosphere is geared toward Gen-Y’s desire for quick and easy information, which can sometimes compromise the type of content we consume.
We’re a passionate generation; we’re driven toward progress and we constantly seek improvement. Millennials have what it takes to do great things. And, many of us have already enacted real, lasting change. But, some of us get caught up in common pitfalls, which damages our potential.
By addressing these five mistakes, we can become better voters, activists and global citizens:
1. We listen to our parents.
Many of us accept our parents’ political beliefs, no questions asked.
We align with the same parties, take similar stances on complicated issues and blindly advocate for the same candidates.
This is problematic, mainly because despite being raised by your parents, you’re a different person (shocker). I get it; it’s hard to challenge the ideals with which you were raised, but it’s okay to do so.
Question what you think you know. We need to represent our own unique needs, values and desires, not those of a previous generation.
2. We believe that social media is a reliable news source.
A lot of us get our daily news from articles posted on Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes, this method will, in fact, lead to an accurate representation of the facts.
Most of the time, however, we end up clicking on biased articles that are made to attract readers with shocking headlines and exaggerated information.
It’s important to be critical about everything we read. If something seems fishy, investigate independently.
3. We don’t consider the other side.
Many sources tend to be biased toward one side of a debate. And sometimes, this biased content is the only information immediately available.
Perhaps, because of this, you haven’t considered the full range of different point of views. We need to remember that journalists are experts at framing information in persuasive ways.
No matter how strongly you feel about a topic, it’s crucial to recognize the full story.
Maybe you’ll change your stance. At the very least, you’ll better understand the context of the issue and the obstacles in your way in order to achieve your goal.
4. We only care about the social issues.
Pro-choice/pro-life, same-sex marriage and gender equality are all very important issues, but they’re not the only issues.
Unless you’re a math buff, it’s much easier to engage in social debates than attempt to formulate a way to balance the national budget.
But, just because social issues are more accessible doesn’t mean they should always take priority. Take a moment to learn about the economy or the international climate.
When tax season arrives, you’ll be glad you did.
5. We want to win.
Contrary to popular belief, politics is not a game. When we advocate a stance with the sole mission to "win," we silence important voices.
It’s no secret that our society is polarized; radical decisions will leave entire groups unsatisfied and misrepresented. The only way to make real progress is to compromise, or at least to hear out opposing opinions.
In order for democracy to work, we all need to keep an open mind.