by Jordan Evans
I have a mere three social media accounts; despite this small number (compared to my peers,) I am introduced to an abundance of information. This information involves topics to which I would have otherwise never been exposed. I see bureaucratic articles whose authors stretch across the political spectrum, photos of outer space and deep-sea canyons, refugees’ first-hand accounts of violence, and videos of people and cultures from all around the world. If I were living in my parents’ generation, I would not see any of this, which is why being a teenager right now is pretty awesome.
With this information that we teenagers have within our reach, we are capable of formulating our own thoughts and opinions. Most adults are happy to converse with teenagers about topics formerly restricted to older generations; there is a respect for the young adult mind. At Thanksgiving, for example, my aunts and uncles were surprised to see that El Gato provides very diverse news which includes local, national, and global sections. My relatives noted that when they were in high school, they were not exposed to mature topics. There has been a change in recent decades in the perception of students’ ability to “handle” adult subject matter, thus giving students more respect in the adult world.
This feeling of inclusiveness in the previously shrouded, you-must-be-this-tall-to-enter society, has made its way into “teenage sphere.” Social media, whose target audience is often teens, has blossomed with thousands of accounts on each app that promote and create discussion forums for feminism, politics, cultural appropriation, religious tolerance, and more. The draw of Internet-based discourse is that it is an international platform; teenagers from across the world can talk to each other about topics that affect all of them. No longer are teens limited to debating controversial issues with their immediate peers, but they can just dive into the vast pool of the web and find millions of others who share their drive to explore society. In fact, this successful way of communicating to a wide audience is what has driven adults to enter this teenage front. President Obama, Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Gates, and even CNN have Twitter accounts! They and countless others understand the connected environment that teenagers have built, and they want in. This new society lets everyone participate, because their education is just a username away.
As a teen, I have been inducted into a new world where there are people willing to listen to my voice, opinion, and perspective. I, in turn, am willing to listen to others’ voices, opinions, and perspectives. We teenagers are reveling in the mutual obligation to “hear each other out” because we come bearing opinions based on knowledge. This knowledge is a fairly recent privilege that we are finally able to take advantage of, and the world is a pretty exciting place for teenagers because of it.