A message to young people: Get back in the driver's seat

Young people should take care not to let social media distract from what is going on in the world around them. 

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

The greatest fear of the Ancient Roman government for much of its existence was popular revolt. To keep the people docile and controlled, the Roman government would provide entertainment in the form of gladiatorial combat and rations of free bread. This solution, commonly referred to as the “bread and circuses” tactic, distracted the public from a pressing sense of civic duty.

This story of the past prefaces this article because of its strong parallel to modern society, especially for those of college age. Instead of “bread and circuses,” we find our generation indulged in the orb of social media that has created the foundation of the modern mainstream media influencing machine. 

This machine persuades the dwindling number of millennials that do end up voting what to think about our political state rather than presenting the massively consequential issues that face us in their unmolested, holistic form. Additionally, because of our generation’s thoughtless tendency to turn a blind eye to current events, the modern media is forced to reduce quality of reporting, put a lower price on journalistic integrity and present news in an easily consumable, sensationalist pill often in the form of a tweet. Oh, how far we have fallen.

Arguably, we live in one of the most important times in our nation’s history. Polarization, uncertainty and malice consume the representatives we are tasked with electing to operate our government that is supposed to legislate on our behalf and in our interest. Even with the theoretically heavy importance we place on political action in times like these, our phones and the degradation of integrity within journalism lead a wide margin of our generation to be despicably uninvolved with and ignorant to the very political system that dictates the course of our future as a nation and a citizenship.

It has been shown time and time again that young people ages 18-34 no longer place an importance on seeking out news or being informed. Now, the younger voting bloc finds their news, if at all, by happenstance; passively absorbing the random collection of soundbites and one-liner quotes that haphazardly appear on their social media feed. The distraction from civic duty and involvement, dictated by the tightening grip of cheap, social media-based entertainment, has forced the mainstream media to cave to the millennial way of life. This has manifested itself through the increased polarized reporting, poorly founded opinion and emotionally charged stories meant to force young people to pick a side.

This is truly a tragedy that is propelled by our chosen ignorance to the world around us. However, we still have a choice and a phenomenal opportunity to retake control over the political state that is the foundation of the world in which we live, and the media that is supposed to hold that very political system accountable. Either remain passive and choose to keep the blindfold over our eyes as the hands of spiteful division and childish infighting tighten their grip on our political system, or take control by opening our eyes to what’s going on around us by reading the news and performing our civic duty at the ballot box.

Just because what is going on at the top might not affect us at the present moment, it assuredly will in the years to come. As young people, we need to place more importance on changing our identity from the “me generation” to the “we generation,” taking an authoritative seat at the table and playing our part to restore civility and order to the nation we have already started to inherit. Don’t sit idle and indulge in the “bread and circuses” that create the illusion that your role in the future is negligible; rather, take the time to find opportunities to create change. In a democracy, every voice matters no matter how big or small, especially in the turbulent times ahead.

Jack is a sophomore studying finance. Do you think young people are uninterested in current events and politics? Please send all comments to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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