Political involvement proves necessary for current generation

Mia Merchant, co-opinions editor

Whenever I read something about my generation online, it’s always one of two things. Either Generation Z is lazy and unmotivated because we’ve grown up with technology so we don’t have to do anything ourselves, or we’re going to turn things around and make the planet habitable again after the Boomers die out. 

Somehow, we fit into both of these contrasting narratives. 

Take a walk through the halls of Glenbrook South and you see nearly everyone either looking down at a phone or at least holding theirs while rushing off to class. Of course, that’s a scene that one can observe in any public place, as we are not the only generation that is addicted to technology. But we are the only ones who grew up with access to the world at our fingertips, and that means that we have a responsibility to stay connected and informed about it. 

I don’t use social media (unless Pinterest counts), but I still make an effort to be, at the very least, up to date about global affairs. I’ve heard so many people say “I don’t care about politics,” but the fact is, everything is politics. We have to know at least something about what politicians are discussing in Congress so that when it’s our turn to take over, we can actually change things for the better. 

I acknowledge, however, that sometimes staying connected with everything can be overwhelming. There are too many wars being fought, too many icebergs melting and animals dying, too many politicians yelling at each other over nothing. And it is a daunting task, to know that we’ll have to be the ones to end these wars, to stop climate change, to fix Congress. 

I won’t lie: ignorance really is bliss. But hiding behind a screen and pretending that the world isn’t on fire won’t change anything. So try as we might to only use social media to send pictures of our faces to our friends, we owe it to our planet and every living thing on it to be the generation that really does turn things around. 

I used to be one who was caught up in my own little world, never looking beyond it because I simply didn’t want to hear any stories on how the world was going to shit. It took a lot for me to get into a habit of reading the news every so often, or turning on BBC when I had nothing else to watch so I could absorb current events by osmosis, or willingly searching up people and events to formulate my own opinions and widen my worldview just a little bit. 

I’m not saying you have to be perfectly informed on every issue; just enough to hold conversations in which you have your own viewpoints. Talking about politics is touchy these days; how deeply people care about world affairs falls on a vast spectrum.  People are either heavily invested in current events that impact people’s lives, or only on staying “up to date” on who just bought the same colored prom dress as you and ensuring that you call them out on social media. 

I’ve also seen people who normally don’t read news articles—unless they’re celebrity clickbait—suddenly invested in the news because there’s something actively trying to kill us all and it’s penetrated their little social bubbles (yes, I’m talking about the Coronavirus). Newsflash, people: there are things trying to kill people all around the world all the time. And you should be aware of them, because we never know when they’ll need us to do something about it when we can. 

I know everyone has the capacity to care about people and the issues they face all around the world. We have to be the generation to use the technology we are so lucky to have to end this culture of ignorance, not perpetuate it. We have to be aware of what’s going on beyond our little bubbles. 

You might think that there’s nothing that you can do now, and it’s true that not every one of us can be the next Greta or Malala, but that’s not an excuse to turn away from the world. Even just breaking out of this cycle of ignorance is one step further into a future where we can all be global citizens. 

You can be “politically involved” or, as kids these days say, “woke” in a lot of little ways. I haven’t stood up for the pledge every morning since I was a sophomore; I get updates from Amnesty International and the ACLU to stay informed; I attend Feminist Club and SOAR and SAGA when I can; I try my best to speak out when I see an injustice committed. 

If we have enough people who really care, who really want to make a difference in this world, then I do believe that we will be able to turn things around—but that’s just my opinion. It’s up to everyone to make this a reality. So read up, take a stance, and when our time comes, we will be ready to take over the world.