With the 2016 presidential election right around the corner, politically related hashtags on Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms are running rampant. The 2008 election was dubbed as the “Facebook Election,” and with the increased usage of social media among age groups over the last decade; it’s a safe assessment to say 2016 will be even more “social.”
But will this really be the case?
A report from The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement says otherwise. According to CIRCLE, 19.9 percent of 18-29 year olds participated in elections in 2014 versus 26.6 percent the previous 40 years. Such a low turnout at the ballot box for a group where 92 percent of its members are active on social media (PewResearchCenter) isn’t very promising. Why is it that these young individuals who are quick to share police brutality videos, add the French flag as their profile background, or voice their opinion on gun ownership do not display the same initiative for their civic duties?
Politicians are doing their best to reach out to this “Millennial” generation. Trump on Twitter, Rubio on Snapchat, and Sanders on Facebook are all dishing out content, some more controversial than others, but is it all for naught? Well, yes and no. Older age groups are active on social media as well, although not nearly as active as Millennials, but still remain responsible voters. The trust issues seem to stem primarily from the 18-29 year olds. They are politically active online and keep up with the presidential hopefuls, but four out of five won’t vote. As the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Harvard polls show that most Millennials truly do not trust authorities, politicians, government, media, and even Wall Street.
This passive outlook will surely leave a skewed misrepresentation when the votes are in for 2016. With such a large base of disgruntled citizens not collectively having their voice heard, on paper at least, it would be interesting to see how the political and economical landscape of our country shapes out in years to come. The Information Age has its pros and cons. On one hand, you have all the information you can handle at your fingertips, on the other, all that information causes a system overload. When you spend so much time online as the Millennials do, and see so much conflicting information, so many sides to a story, biased news sources; it can get overwhelming.
But silence is not the answer.
Maybe influencers should advocate the need to vote through social media campaigns. Maybe brands should promote giveaway contests to those who voted. Or better yet, maybe the federal government can implement online voting. We’re only about to be in 2016 after all, and it will sure cost a lot less than the Affordable Care Act website. In the meantime, here’s a link to register if you haven’t done so already. Share it throughout your online profiles and let’s make voting social again.