The Gen Z Civic Action Dilemma: How Can We Connect the Hyper Connected?

McGill students film their vote mob video for the 2011 federal election on campus. Apr 14 2011
Credit: Adam Scott

We’re one year away from 2020 and it seems like our country is in danger of sliding backwards. Socio-political progress is in danger of being re-imagined, our planet is in danger of extreme and irreversible damage, basic human rights are in danger of being controlled by older, white, partisan men in congress…. So what am I supposed to do? I’m a teenager, confined to the brick and mortar, learning about circumferences and ancient Greece and some guy named Oedipus and putting sweats over my jeans because I can’t be bothered to fully participate in gym class. It’s exhausting, truly. I have no voice, no credentials. If people don’t take Emma Gonzalez seriously, no one will take me seriously. I don’t know how I can help, and to be honest, “civic action” sounds intense and I don’t know if I have the guts to stand up for anything or to anyone. I’m scared of raising my voice, but I’m also scared of what will happen if I don’t. What do I do? Is my voice really going to make that much of a difference, anyway?

Even though our country’s youth is hyper-connected, there seems to be a disconnect in how some perceive their role in society. Mindless scrolling, playing the “like4like?” game, and subscribing to a new favorite YouTuber is easy. Fun, even. There’s so much to do on these little screens of ours.

But would it be outlandish to say that we can help change the world with the same screen that we look up pictures of ex girlfriends and buy the new Kylie Lip Kit and check on our fantasy football teams and search for the best place to get bubble tea in Garden City? No. Not at all. Take DoSomething, the largest organization in the world dedicated to getting youth involved in becoming civic agents. Civic action can seem intimidating, but DoSomething hosts campaigns like “Give a Spit about Cancer” and “13 Gallon Challenge” to make doing something seem less unattainable.

Whether the DoSomething team is sending out text blasts inviting participation or providing users with useful educational resources, over 6 million members have taken on at least one of these campaign, rallied troops and posted about their progress on social media to spread the good word about doing some good. Re frame-working the value of social media for youth and instilling a sense of advocacy and empowerment can be the key that we need to grow society’s civic digital literacy, and DoSomething is a pioneer in this movement. Let’s not let our hindsight be 20/20.

DoSomething members collecting jeans for the Teens for Jeans campaign
Photo Credit

One thought on “The Gen Z Civic Action Dilemma: How Can We Connect the Hyper Connected?

  1. Thanks, Krissy, for sharing this hopeful message and this interesting resource. The challenges our world is facing can be overwhelming in their number and scope but the truth is that just picking ONE to focus on can be empowering and can make a difference. For young people it might also help to transform their sense of the what can be done on social media. Do you think that, as educators, that it is our responsibility to introduce students to the concpet of civic literacy and more specifically to digital civic literacy so that they can take better advantage of the tools at thier finger-tips?


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