Teen #Voices: #Politics affect #students, too

For the past several years, I’ve kept a keen eye on the news, shelving away the headlines and infomercials in a little corner of my mind to dust off and reminisce in times of boredom.

In all the years I’ve cared about current events and politics, 2017 has been the most politically charged and controversial by far. Yes, the election of Barack Obama broke a racial glass ceiling; yes, the legalization of gay marriage was phenomenal — however, the negativity, the fear, and the atmosphere of national polarization brought on by the Trump election has changed my attitude toward the news.

As a junior in high school, I know that school is supposed to be sheltered and apolitical. But social issues and politics affect each and every one of us. As I walked through the school hallways the day after the 2016 presidential election, I realized the personal effects it had on my classmates.

We felt the national joy and fear through the news notifications on our smartphones, the tweets on Twitter and stories on Snapchat. We felt it through the murmurs of our friends and the subtle comments made by some adults.

Although the hallways of Lincoln East High School tried to shelter us from the outside world, in this age of information, very little can be hidden anymore, and many teenagers and young adults are beginning to call for a seat at the table of normally “adult” affairs.

Between conversations about Donald Trump’s latest angry tweet and the potential benefits of virtual reality technology, I realized the informed and opinionated views many students held today. Contrary to popular belief, many of us teens do more on our iPhones and Androids than look at Instagram and Snapchat. And even when we are scrolling through our Twitter or Instagram feed or tapping fervently through Snapchat stories, information about the world bombards our senses.

Trump’s latest Tweet pops up, the first picture of CNN’s Snapchat announces a change in the Russia investigation, or a passionate social media advocate makes a post about feminism on his or her Instagram feed. The old adage goes, “A flap of a butterfly’s wings can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world.” With the rise of technology and social media, even a little move can be heard and cause an effect across the globe.

As the world becomes more connected and evolved, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of us are interested in what is going on worldwide. Students come from a wide variety of sociocultural backgrounds.

We are rich, poor and middle class. We are black, Asian, white, Native, brown and numerous other combinations of races. Some of us don’t conform to normative gender roles and sexual orientations. Our identities and backgrounds expose us to different experiences, influence our perceptions and give us each an individual voice to add to the conversation.

With the varied backgrounds and identities among Lincoln teens have important and unique opinions on the world, opinions often unheard or ignored. A Teen Voices column featuring young Lincoln voices is necessary both to allow for youth representation and open a window into young perspectives for the adult audience.

This monthly column in the Journal Star is meant to offer an unfiltered, candid window into the conversations and thoughts of teens and young adults. The Journal Star and LPS are looking for young, opinionated voices to offer new and diverse perspectives on the broad range of issues affecting society today. This column is meant to be a change of pace from everyday opinion writing and allow writers from all backgrounds to delve into topics about which they are passionate and opinionated.

It is my belief that this addition will be a maturing and connecting experience for Lincoln. I hope that the opportunity to write and be heard will prompt teens and young adults to become more active in the community and more involved in the rest of the world. Additionally, I believe this will connect teens to the adult audience and develop mutual understanding and respect of opinions, despite the generational gap.

Finally, I hope the introduction of different perspectives will play a part in the maturation of views and opinions and foster understanding between people with contradicting viewpoints.

The old saying notes that children are the future of the world. It’s time, then, that they get a say in the world.

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