This op-ed story was produced during the Fall 2020 Youth Voice Workshop.
No matter where you stand on politics, whether you cheer for the Vikings, or whether you say “soda” or “pop,” one similarity we all can agree on in 2020 is that social media has changed how we live.
It’s easier than ever to get information; but, the information we are getting is coming from our feed which is curated to our beliefs. While hearing our own beliefs is validating, it is also important to look at things from a different viewpoint, and fact check what we see. This is especially crucial for young adults as we shape our political beliefs.
Everyone knows how deceiving our Instagram feed may be. But according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 48% of adults aged 18-29 say it is their main source of political news. The same study showed that people who relied most on social media for their political news were less likely to be knowledgeable about current events and politics.
Many of us also follow celebrities that support our beliefs. When Harry Styles reposted a tweet from Joe Biden, mine and I’m sure many others’ feeds were filled with people reposting this news. This is an example of when young teens come across their favorite celebrities’ political opinions, regardless of what they are, it is easy to agree. With our feeds flooded with others’ opinions, it can be challenging to create our own. Many of us share posts that we think we agree with, without taking the time to make sure the content is true.
According to a 2020 PBS/NPR survey, 59% of Americans say it is difficult to identify the difference between true and false information. An example: when President Trump was impeached, many people my age thought he was removed from office. This is a time where one must do research, to get a clearer understanding of what’s happening in politics.
This disregard for fact checking what we see on social media can make our judgment unreliable and biased. People who use reliable news sources are more likely to become more educated voters and citizens. We can do better than these statistics.
Although social media can connect us to different points of view, we have to step out of our bubble and seek them out. We can all agree that we want to change the world. Our first step can be changing the way we inform ourselves.