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Sweeney: Adolescent bandwagon politics present problem

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Katlin Sweeney

As a nineteen-year-old woman who’s just wrapped up her first year of college, I guess it’d be fair to say that my political views and opinions have been evolving quite a bit in the last few months.

I’m a strong proponent for social justice and equality for all human beings regardless of their political or personal preferences. But I don’t necessarily set out to convert everyone I know into sharing these beliefs. I’m fine with everyone having whatever opinions they want as long as they are respectful of the fact that all people think differently, but nothing fascinates me more than people who just don’t care.

There is a notable shift in the amount of young adults who care about politics and have formed opinions about social issues from high school to college. However there is still a large percentage of them who go through their daily lives without considering anything. Everyone has at least one friend that when asked to express their opinion in conversation revolving around social/political issues just says, “Oh I don’t know.”

I find it strange that someone can go through life without pondering issues that directly affect them and/or the people around them. In a sense, not having an opinion is more disastrous than having one that is maybe negative because if that person ends up deciding to vote or talk to others about the issue, they could end up doing more harm than good.

Being ill-informed is one of the biggest issues that our society faces today, the news source of many teenagers and young adults only being social media. Part of the problem is that when adolescents only hear news from social media about button-pushing topics, they may tend to jump on the bandwagon of what is publicly portrayed as the ‘acceptable’ or ‘cool’ opinion to have versus doing suitable research on their own.

This leads us into the possible predicament of people maintaining opinions that are not necessarily what they believe in or what they know relatively anything about. The issue in turn becomes that people may be against other opinions or political stances solely because that’s what is ‘cool,’ and so the issue continues to grow.

I’m aware that a big part of the problem is the fact that every political party, advocate for social justice, and religious group is represented by the extremists of their group. The American public tends to latch onto labels and categorizations, and personal beliefs are no exception.

If someone does not share the same views as you, suddenly the conversation is transported to a realm where they are seeing your perspective through the lens of whatever crazy stories they heard about that group or religion rather than being open-minded to learning about you personally. Our culture exists on the conversational style of attack, attack, attack rather than critical listening, which is a sad state to be in.

I’m not saying that social media can’t function as a springboard into learning about what issues are being highly discussed, but I think that more people need to start reading and listening critically so that they can develop their opinions independent of what they are being told to believe. We need to start reading multiple news sources so that we can read a variety of opinions instead of just one, and therefore we can become more informed members of society.

1 Comment on Sweeney: Adolescent bandwagon politics present problem

  1. Amazing writer. Love it. This is so true and she presents this issue in such a clear way. People need to start caring and forming opinions!

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