Political Performance

Grace Connolly, Staffer

Protestors filled the streets, rioters filled the Capitol, and political awareness skyrocketed among citizens like never before. In the past several years, more and more people have become more politically active, with 2020 bringing the most political unrest yet. 

Teenagers are amongst the many demographic groups to have an increase in political activity in recent years, and this can be partly attributed to the rise of social media. Social media has allowed for a constant stream of opinions, news, information, and other political media into peoples’ day-to-day lives. Whether it’s an infographic on Instagram, or a political news article shared on Twitter, it’s almost impossible to open any form of social media now without seeing political content. Some people choose to constantly state their opinions, beliefs, and values on political topics, whereas others choose to remain silent on issues. Because of this divide between political posters and political non-posters, social media experiences are widely varied. 

“I think the main reason I post political content is for self expression,” former Martin student Catie Wilkerson said. “I like to make my Instagram a mirror of my personality.”

 The attitude of self expression is likely the most popular reason people choose to share, post, send, or tweet political content on social media. On the other hand, expressing one’s beliefs on a website doesn’t appeal to everybody. 

“I don’t post political posts because honestly, I hate confrontation,” senior Kate Atkins said. “It’s not that I disagree with speaking out, I just simply don’t want to fight or argue.”

 Many teenagers, like Atkins, choose not to speak out so they don’t face confrontation. Some face familial divides, while others simply don’t want to risk a difference in beliefs affecting their friendships.

For many people, Instagram is the go-to social media platform for political sharing. Because of its popularity, the app can sometimes be overflowing with political posts when someone opens their phone. Often, one person will see a post they agree with, share it, and that will start a domino effect of their peers posting the same post. 

“I typically see a spam of the same post,” Atkins said, “which can get annoying.”

Many different issues can be represented through political posts. While posts about politicians and politics can be found, both Atkins and Wilkerson said that they found that the most frequent issues amongst their peers were topics of abortion, racism, women’s rights, and LGBTQ+ equality. But Instagram isn’t the only social media platform with constant political sharing. 

“My primary sources of social media are Facebook and Instagram, although I mainly use Facebook,” English teacher Jennifer McNairn said.

Because of how much everything has changed in the past couple of years, political posts have become more and more frequent.

 “With so many controversial things happening, I see political posts probably daily,” said McNairn.

Even people who don’t post political content still witness political posts on social media. 

   “Many posts are just informational and attempt to spread awareness,” McNairn said. “Sadly though, many political posts are used to spout hatred and ignorance. I tend to be more of an observer of social media than someone who posts a lot, but even when I do, it is usually related to my family or to brag about students or something that happened at school.”