Editor’s note: Facebook statuses aren’t news

By Heather Scroering

We can all rest easier now that election campaigning is over for at least another two years. Some of us are probably exhausted from having unsolicited political opinions squawked at us from all angles on social media. But during this election, I noticed a trend: People saying they were turning away from political issues altogether simply because they felt they had reached their saturation point with ill-informed Facebook politicking.

While getting fed up with the negativity every election generates is understandable, it shouldn’t be a reason to tune out politics. Might I suggest a simple solution? Log off Facebook and turn to credible sources to start forming your own opinion.

There are several reasons young people are out of touch with governmental affairs, but one in particular is the confusion caused by fast-access “news” and social media. These technological advances have undoubtedly done wonders for educating the general public, but it has become difficult for youth to filter through the facts and falsehoods because they’re relying on Facebook and Twitter feeds to deliver news.

For instance, a year and a half ago, while doing homework with several friends, one suddenly exclaimed, “Kathy Griffin just tweeted Osama bin Laden is dead!” Griffin is literally the last person I would turn to for current events, and I wasn’t about to take her word for it. Though she was right, I sincerely regretted catching wind of this historical moment via a turkey-necked drag queen impostor and rectified the situation by turning on the news to hear President Obama’s announcement.

But what I fear most is that young people don’t take the extra step to pin down the real facts from viable sources because they’re satisfied with information they get from friends, or even worse, celebrities.

Somehow, having all of the information we could ever ask for only a Google search away has increased this laziness in young people, and they expect everything to be spoon-fed to them. No one wants to do the digging to find the facts, even though accurate information is more available than ever before. This lack of effort to think critically and to search for original sources is making more and more Millennials shy away from political issues, and kids are unable to relate to what matters, like health care and student loan debt, which will influence their lives now and in the future.

Saying you’re not into politics is as silly as a female saying she isn’t a feminist. Just as all women’s rights issues impact all women, political issues affect every single person in the country.

First, recognize that most of our Facebook friends are not professional journalists, so don’t rely solely on the information in newsfeeds. Second, we shouldn’t throw in the towel on learning new information because we’re tired of hearing others’ political opinions. If people were more informed, there would be less of that.

Instead, ask yourself why you’re so annoyed by someone else’s views as a starting point to form your own ideas. Read books and actual news from real media outlets. Pick up a newspaper. Look up words in a dictionary.

I guarantee there are political issues everyone cares about, whether it’s immigration reform or marijuana legalization. Young people need to stop disengaging themselves from political conversations and make more of an effort to be involved because politics certainly affect all of us.