Our Take: Campaign beyond Tuesday

As election day draws near and the presidential campaign becomes a painful memory, the involvement of young people, especially students, in the political environment has no doubt changed.  We have survived the first presidential election to use Twitter as a tool, bringing with it intense fights between friends and laughable memes. If this election proved anything, it’s that issues are better thought-over when more people are spotlighting them. Tuesday’s results, whether they make you smile, frown or just shrug your shoulders, should not usher the end of social media politics, but instead be an invitation to discuss issues besides candidates.

Students have become quick to post comments of disgust and retweet fiery facts about their favorite candidate’s opponent.  Behind every, albeit hilarious, meme that sprung up, was the underlying fact that the people who created them paid attention in some way to current events. This eagerness to participate in the commentary of national events can easily be channeled into other causes.

The past year took politics and national issues that usually played in the background and smothered our Twitter feeds with them.  Topics like social equality, terrorism and gun control were injected into our daily lives, educating those who didn’t often think of them and encouraging them to comment and discuss.  This trend displayed a healthy recognition of current events and should be continued beyond the election.

Social media has played an educational role in this election by teaching bits of constitutional law and serving as a fact-checker during debates.  If this educational role could be extended to topics beyond Tuesday, issues that have been overshadowed can be brought to light.  Topics like hunger in warring countries, ending sexual abuse and education inequality could take leaps toward solutions if they were given the same social media attention this election garnered.

Hopefully future elections will not consist of as many personal attacks and arbitrary criticisms as this one did, but the passion behind them demonstrated an interest that can hopefully be transitioned onto something else.  This occurs already.  When Stanford student Brock Turner was released from jail just three months after being convicted of rape, people took to the internet to display the personal insult they felt.  When jaguar was shot at the Olympics and social media flooded with cries for the respect of animal rights, how passion for current events can be channeled on social media beyond politics was exemplified.

As we enter this time of transition, we can use the same momentum of attention to fight for causes we support. Look at the things that demand your empathy.  Channel them into your posts, tweets and snaps.  Pay attention to politics even when you’re not being asked to vote. This election has seen historically high numbers of young people taking an interest in current events.  It has become clear that our voices, while new to the scene, are loud. In four years, every student here will be old enough to vote, not just select seniors, but until then, we can still advocate for the issues we care about.

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