Parkland shooting survivors example of impact of media on youth

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Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez comforts a classmate during a CNN town hall meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 21. Columnist Hayley believes that social media plays a big role in sparking a change in today’s world.

By Hayley Nagelberg, Columnist

There are 21,000 retweets and nearly 60,000 likes on a tweet that’s been screenshotted and shared around every platform of social media in the last week.

It was a tweet from Patrick Tomlinson, author of The Ark Trilogy, which said, “You watched a generation grow up on a diet of Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Marvel movies, you stripped away their hope, their jobs, their futures, and then backed the most cartoonish super-villain in history for President, and you’re shocked the children are fighting back?” In the first reply thread he continued, “Really? You followed the damned script to a T. You pumped up millions of kids, for two decades, to believe they and their friends could make a difference. Then you thrust them all into a dystopian nightmare of violence and persecution. And NOW you’re shocked they’re all Katniss?”

I don’t agree with the entire layout of this argument. However, I think there is a lot of merit behind taking a step back to look at the media on which my generation and generations even younger have grown up.

No, I never received a participation medal. However, I was told growing up that my voice mattered. I was told that I could make a difference. And I believed it.

Now I cannot even begin to count the number of times I hear statements along the lines of, “I think your generation will be the ones to end the world.” I hear that I am naive and uninformed and just don’t understand the real world.

I sat in on a meeting last weekend where I was told that my peers and I are part of a “post-truth” era. And I sat there wondering what that even meant.

And yet in the wake of yet another mass shooting and seeing social media content like Tomlinson’s tweet, I believe I do have a better grasp on my generation than ever before.

The real world these generations are speaking of is not the real world my generation will enter.

What we were and are told in classrooms does not line up with our reality. What we see on mainstream media and in echo-chamber Facebook groups across our phone screens, however flawed, is our new reality.

We have seen the impact of mass media on my generation from the continuous conversations regarding body image and eating disorders due to non-stop Photoshop on the cover of magazines.

We have seen the impact in our discussion of women’s pay and sexual assault statistics by viral video trends such as FCKH8’s Potty-Mouthed Princesses who dressed up in princess dresses and cursed while spewing facts on these glaring societal issues.

Last week, Kylie Jenner tweeted she doesn’t like the new Snapchat update and the stock fell over 1 billion dollars.

With the tap of a key and the words on a page, our generation has proven that we can monumentally impact the course of the world around us. The students organizing protests and march-outs in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting show another route we can take beyond our technology.

I did grow up taking in the words of the books and television shows around me. I do believe I can make a difference. And when the adults of today recognize that our spheres and networks of influence travel wider and faster than any of their methods, they will recognize that we are no longer living in their world. Rather, we’re shaping one for ourselves — and the course that this world will take is up to us and us alone.

Hayley is a junior in ACES.

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