The only thing colder than the temperature outside is the disdain some baby boomers have towards millennials.
To keep myself engaged with the world around me over our lengthy winter break, I made sure to read my hometown paper every day. While I always paid particular attention to the opinions page, on the morning of Jan. 2, one cartoon really caught my eye.
The cartoon had four men standing in a line, all in various states of advanced age. The average ages for viewers of MSNBC (62.5 years), CNN (62.8), and Fox News (68.8), is shown above each man. Beside the four men lies a tombstone, with the words “10 Years from Now” above it. Engraved on the tombstone are the words “RIP: Informed Citizens.”
Of course, this isn’t the first insult hurled at members of my generation from those older than us. But when I look around at my fellow students here on campus, I see anything but.
Sure, we’re perpetually bent over our smartphones; We spend a lot of time on Facebook, tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram; We love our social media. But we don’t just use it to share pictures of our food or post selfies, we’re actively involved in a larger social justice movement that could not have happened if social media did not exist.
Thanks to websites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, we know about current events as they happen.
Information about certain events, like the protests in Ferguson, New York, or Ukraine, was at our fingertips from a variety of sources. We see these unfold through the eyes of citizens at ground zero, instead of listening to some talking heads on television repeat the same facts over and over.
What would we know about the events that shook our nation to the core if it wasn’t for social media?
K College is a very politically active campus, and I challenge anyone who believes that we are not as “well-informed” as the illustrator of that cartoon implies. We have hosted several well-known social justice speakers on campus, from Angela Davis to the founder of Hollaback!, an organization focused on ending street harassment. All of these speakers are respected within the social justice community, and have had large audiences attend their talks. We organized our own protest on campus against police brutality, and students even went down to Ferguson to attend protests themselves.
Ours is not an uninformed generation, rather, the way we consume information has changed throughout the years.
We are no longer listening to the same opinions generated by the same newscasters on cable TV. Even if we aren’t physically at the forefront of movements, we’re there through social media – Tweeting, reblogging, and posting about our opinions using the Internet.
The age of the “informed citizen” is not over, and the “informed citizen” will not become an extinct species – rather, the “informed citizen” will evolve, just as our method of consuming and sharing information has evolved.