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Social Media Sways Millennials

Media influences and biased appeals are making it more acceptable among teenagers and young adults to be a Democrat rather than a Republican.

Senior+Kiersten+Akins+reads+about+President+Donald+Trump+on+Twitter.
Senior Kiersten Akins reads about President Donald Trump on Twitter.

Senior Kiersten Akins reads about President Donald Trump on Twitter.

SILVIA HOXHA

SILVIA HOXHA

Senior Kiersten Akins reads about President Donald Trump on Twitter.

Maddie Young, Staff Writer

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The 2016 presidential election will be remembered not only for the polarizing candidates and tumultuous campaigns, but also for the large role that social media played in it. People across the nation used Twitter, Instagram and other sites to voice opinions, exposing both adults and teens to information that was not always factual.

Twitter has 200 million more users than during the 2012 election. Facebook has 1.6 billion active users. According to a study done by the Pew Research Center, two thirds of 18 to 29- year-olds in America said that social media is the most helpful and frequently used way to learn about politics.

The atmosphere on social media and in many schools captured large groups of Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters. Although Donald Trump won, adult liberals have high hopes for the upcoming generations, as they are expected to lean to the left. Polls taken by Pew Research Center revealed that only 34 percent of millennials identify as conservative, and even they are still found to be less conservative than previous generations.

Prevalent social issues attract the attention of many young people. Liberal candidates tend to support rights for groups like the LGBT community and immigrants, which appeals to many teens. Redistribution of wealth and universal health care are more accepted by younger people as they are usually more willing to allow a higher level of government involvement. For example, students appreciated Sanders’s goal of free college education, one which brought him many followers. Some people failed to consider where this money would come from, as nothing is ever for free.

Celebrities today are also held in high esteem by many young people. Consequently, those with millions of followers on social media have immense power. However, celebrities cannot always be trusted to give an educated political opinion due to their separation from the problems the majority of the working class faces. The circulation of loving support for Clinton by A-listers can give readers false impressions, just as long messages bashing Trump for petty comments might encourage people to take one side without researching any further.

Comical memes, tweets and videos that are posted can sway people using ethical and emotional appeals, which can easily be exaggerated and loosely fact-based.

People tend to read things that support what they already believe. Studies conducted at the University of Southern California found that people will seek out others to confirm their opinions. Instead of searching for the truth and trying to find the best person to run our country, people are more concerned with their own opinions being right.

Many Republicans face harsh stereotypes based on some of Trump’s more questionable acts, as it is more socially acceptable to be a liberal. His supporters are categorized as racist, closed-minded and oppressive. Many liberals are outspoken when it comes to protecting the rights of minorities, but some of these same people categorize and degrade Republicans. When I discuss the election with my peers they are shocked that I support Trump. People will brush off my opinions and act like I have no idea what I’m talking about.

“I felt personally victimized by people on Twitter and in school,” junior Will Myers said. “While I was wearing a hat in support of our current president I was getting some very nasty looks from students and staff. It was degrading. I feel like one of the few people that supports Trump.”

Senior Jessica Hart supported Clinton in this election, but she recognized some of the bias on social media.

“After the election there were a lot of liberal memes and things making fun of Trump and his speeches,” Hart said. “There is a lot of negativity towards him and what he said, even things like his hand gestures and facial expressions.”

People who are angry at Trump display unnecessary and pointless acts of disrespect. These crude comments and rants only create tension and result in social media fights.

The results of our democracy should be accepted. It is fair that Trump won because the people elected him. Some will argue that we should now get rid of the electoral college, but Trump is not the first president to win this way. People dwelling on Clinton’s loss will continue to only see Trump’s failures instead of his successes.

 

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Social Media Sways Millennials