Tik Tok dances to political stances— today a lot of what youth perceive to be their own opinions tend to be heavily influenced by the content they see on a daily basis. 72% of Instagram users are below the age of 18 while 70% of Twitter users are below the age of 30. Between these two heavily used platforms, it’s key to see why they have become so influential for political campaigns and brand growth.
However, popular beliefs and sources of information are becoming sources of debate rather than sources of facts. Due to both exaggerated and dense material, the arguments being encouraged among the youth are often misled and watered-down.
Bandwagoning affects you and especially fellow youth advocates in today’s society (yes, I’m talking to fellow underaged peers). The fact is that we are exposed to a wide variety of topics both political and more mainstream trends through our presence online. We often follow and fill our feed with opinions and content that applies to us— or things we want to. It’s no surprise that social behavior online can heavily influence the way a user feels and acts upon themselves or to others. It’s a quantitative number that gets more clicks, more hearts, more retweets that keeps up there.
Teens are fixed on being a part of a trend or apart, there is hardly grey where opinions can be interchangeable. We handle opinions through not only legacy papers and the news but influencers and those with a high platform. In the 2016 campaign, it almost was deemed necessary for all Democrats and Republicans to have a social media presence. Through a screen, the behavior is hardly overseen and we perceive statements to be strong-toned because there is usually no one advising your tweets besides yourself. Sometimes tweets can be used as a “paper trail” of someone’s profile and reputation.
Everyone gets canceled— you know the action in which someone’s reputation is flushed down the drain because of their “paper-trail” (often through older tweets on their profile that were before they became trendy). James Charles is a YouTuber who in May of 2019 experienced “cancel culture” to a ruthless extent by almost losing half of his subscriber count. Granted in most of these instances where someone gets publicly shunned, it’s based on appropriate accusations. He is one of many who experience this drama and it seems that whenever another person is canceled, a video explaining why cancel culture is toxic pops up in the Youtube stream.
It’s not activism. Bandwagoning into a group and saying someone should no longer be popular is not activism, though it helps shed light onto things, it’s an exaggerated way of teens to move onto the next trend/influencer.
So why has bandwagoning become more popular as the generations get older? It’s a result of pressure and idea of norms among a particular group they’re interested in. So combine that with how we’re able to access different social media platforms faster than before— it’s truly a coming of age. We are so interested in what people are interested in, it’s giving recognition to that group regardless of whether or not you’re against or in support of that trend/topic.
Also known as groupthink, it’s a desire to be in the right and the way to be right is whatever gets the most support in response. Researchers found in a 1992 U.S. presidential election study that student voters who learned Bill Clinton was in the lead switched their votes from Bush to Clinton.
It’s a chain reaction that brands and sponsors take care of because of the public reactions given by us teenagers. In 2018, Juuls were reintroduced with a new targeted audience and it exponentially grew among the younger communities for its “catchy” campaigns and direct advertisements to young adults. This was around the same time where smoking among those under age was 1 in 30 or 1 in 10. However since Juuls manifested a new line of flavored products and new devices, the statistics of underaged smoking have now reached a 1 in 4 in those aged 14-17.
(Truth Intiative 2019)
I remember being in my first year of high school when I began seeing my classmates smoking through these devices that lit up when they inhaled before puffing a “cloud” towards the camera. Since then, it’s only taken trivial turns with smoking weed and drinking when I go online. It’s a chain-reaction in which everyone wants to be a part of that “cloud nine” community. Even if it’s only a small break from their lives.
Being online isn’t terrible. It’s nowhere near the worst thing and more so the best thing you can as a teenager. We hear news faster than before from reliable sources and we are brought into discussions that bring clarity to a person or situation sometimes. You should be online. You should be giving your opinion, like I am, and letting people know that you have an opinion.
Do you see the difference? It comes from what you’ve looked into. Whether that comes from a parent, teacher, news legacy, or a personal encounter— it’s worth sharing. If done correctly. There is no New York Best Seller on ‘How to Talk Online’ but there are common courtesies on the internet. If a situation spirals into a mess, wait a little longer before choosing aside. It gives you a full perspective and allows you to come up with an opinion of your own. Your voice matters.
Among the years online, we’ve seen the internet and bandwagon culture being brought to good use. On Netflix, a documentary titled ‘Don’t f*** with Cats’ trails the timeline of a Facebook group who used their community to track a growing killer. In terms of activism towards something new, the #MeToo movement that started in 2016 amplified the voices of women who were tired of being sexually targeted by males in their workplace. Since then, a study in 2019 of unwanted sexual attention has declined from 66% to 25% for women. It’s created an atmosphere that encourages women of previously unwanted sexual encounters to voice out instead of letting the proper tractor getaway innocently.
Since COVID-19 the acts of racism have increased from a series of underlying racist tweets from none other than executive powers within our country— but that’s an entirely different conversation for our country.
We as the younger generations are stuck inside and viewing more information and news by the day. So don’t get left behind and join in the buzz. It’s what everyone else is doing…