Be accountable to change

Change is in our actions, not in our social media statuses. It’s not enough to share posts and coin a hashtag — social media is a tool for larger political engagement, one that we often take for granted.

Whether it’s in the comment sections of a news article or in a Twitter rant, a major trend of 2016 was people’s — specifically young people’s — dissatisfaction with current events.

Ironically, the tools we’re equipped with to say more and say it more publically than ever before, often enable us to be more apathetic than ever before. Social media can help to fuel the betterment of society, but it’s only when people add tangible action to their words that change happens. Twitter was a factor in sparking the Arab Spring and the Black Lives Matter movement began as a hashtag.

What our generation needs to realize is that social change is less about the tools, and more about how we apply them.

Currently, social media is full of young people complaining about politics, but rarely do we hold ourselves accountable for the lack of change we complain about.

For the first time, people can connect with their local and federal leaders on an instant basis. Politicians have everything to gain from social media — it serves as the perfect outlet for both publicity and to connect with their audience. Unfortunately, when people want something for the greater good, they often only push for it for just a singular moment. After all, it’s easy to click past an article on our newsfeeds, but a lot more difficult to sidestep someone standing in front of you pleading their case.

Whether it’s reposting responsible and critical articles, arranging protests online or trying to reach out to politicians, we can do more.

In democracies across the world, citizens elect their representatives, yet I wonder how often do they engage with them? Rather than just a tool for voicing our disillusionment, our generation can make social media a tool for connecting.  

In a time of Twitter, Facebook and email, we have our best chance to access those who sit in government — something which we pass up all too often.
When we make comments from behind the safety of a keyboard, it’s easy to become a generation that asks for change rather than one that makes it happen.

Joseph is The Journal’s Sports Editor. He’s a fourth-year history major.

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