I remember not really caring about politics when I was younger. I wasn’t fazed by the faces of political candidates plastered on posters all around my area, and didn’t understand why party leaders were shouting at each other during a debate on TV. This was before I was of age to vote, so consequently I wasn’t super involved. My family members seemed pretty passionate about who they were voting for, and I was eager for the day I’d be old enough to understand their interest and partake.
We all know that one person who backs out of a conversation involving politics because they claim “they just aren’t political people.” Well, I’ve got news for you: everything in your life is political whether you care to be aware of it or not. If you aren’t taking part in the decisions being made for your country, someone else will make those choices for you, and it will directly affect your life.
I think I am right to assume that an intelligent, cognizant person would want to know what is going on around them — to understand the events that affect their way of living; from the fluctuating gas prices to healthcare costs for them and their family. When one isn’t aware of their country’s political situation, they are accepting the terms that have been set for them. They are refusing to question, and challenge the institution in place; admitting defeat in a sense. In other words, ignorance isn’t bliss, and if it is then that means you are most likely in a privileged position. Realizing that you are privileged makes it just as important for you to fight for others who are not as fortunate.
Now, however, I would say I am much more involved in politics. Even if I didn’t want to be, it’s kind of hard not to when the media incessantly bombards you with the topic. Though, as I got older I began to realize that political opinions are sensitive things to discuss. People share different views, come from diverse backgrounds and are just as defensive over their beliefs as they are of their children. It can cause arguments, relationships to end or in the extreme, instigate war. When talking about politics with loved ones, convincing them to support your political views can sometimes feel like converting someone to a religion.
However, that shouldn’t mean that people who don’t share your political ideologies need to be cut out of your life, quite the opposite actually. Although you may be tempted to go right ahead and cyber-block that one family member who constantly posts political content you disagree with, hold off. In fact, as a journalism student who needs to practice impartiality, my professors encourage us to read material that is wildly contrary to our beliefs at least once a day. It allows you to break out of your echo chamber and see things from another perspective. It truly makes you realize that not everyone thinks like you.
It isn’t good to shield yourself from opposing views and only allow partisan news organizations to feed your already solid conviction. Personally, I believe social media was intended to open up the world to us, not seal us more firmly inside our own narrow groups.
Politics is about you and your community. It’s as simple as that. Deciding to opt out of the conversation is opting out of your own life, and your own future. It’s signaling that you don’t really care about people who are less fortunate than you. Growing up means taking responsibility for your life, and assuming your role as an educated citizen in society is a part of that.
Graphics: Victoria Blair