The Youth’s Fleeting Chance: Social Media and the 2016 Presidential Election


Senator Bernie Sanders discusses issues facing the youth today. (Photo Credit: Instagram; Sanders, Bernie; @berniesanders)

Shane O'Connell, Staff Writer

It’s 11 p.m. and every seat in this bar has an ass planted in it, or in some cases, drunkenly slumped upon it. The place hosts a colorful cast of characters, from the typical misanthropic drunk who has duked his way through every bar west of the Mississippi, to a far more youthful, chic-looking crowd discussing anything from the nuances of the new iPhone to the organic, gluten-free, nonfat, non-dairy, meatless, non-GMO, carbon-free, toxin-drained products of their refrigerators.

As the night winds to a close, the lights are dimmed and mellow tunes crack through the tall speakers around the room. Heavy bags hang beneath her tired eyes yet for each and every request the occasionally raucous patrons sloppily shout forward, the grizzled barmaid, retail smile loaded, responds calm and collected.  The only pair of eyes not strapped to a phone are the bartender’s and those of the haggard drunk dozing in the corner.

A sleepy scene, one undoubtedly played out daily across the country. At the end of the night, they’ll pile into their cars and head home, not without first drunkenly ‘hashtagging’ their last status with some pithy observation of the night.

The entire scope of knowledge at our fingertips, frittered away by the vast majority of us bored debtors, unconsciously addicted to the weekly distraction readily provided by the calamity inciting, morally bankrupt mainstream media.

This generation, through an endless stream of shamelessly vapid exabytes in which not one of us can deny our participation, is simultaneously conducting while tactlessly weeping at the sorrowful dirge of human potential.

An extremely contagious and parasitic Hulk-like hubris has “turnt” social media into a wicked beast, howling out to whoever will listen, seeking some sort of strange gratification as it poses for yet another ill-advised selfie. This particularly hairy ‘but’ lurks skillfully behind the internet’s widespread demolition of cultural walls, but somehow still overshadows the good that social media has been able to accomplish.

In cases like the Arab Spring of 2011, sites like Facebook and Twitter were battlegrounds for revolution. In 2016, the same will be true in the U.S. as the “Instagram Election” heats up around the country.

With Bernie live-tweeting, Hill-dog “snapchatting” and Jeb! awkwardly posting to Facebook, it’s easy to see that every candidate will be depending on social media to nab the ever-illusory, sometimes thought of as mythical, youth vote. And as Republicans and Democrats alike desperately attempt to appeal to the 18-24 demographic, it’s important for us to recognize our power and utilize it.

Every election cycle, the talking heads around the country say, “This year will go down as one of the most important in American history.” Well, with the campaign finance system in shambles thanks to Citizen’s United, every branch of government bloated with corrupt frogs who croak support for an issue only once their wallet’s been fattened, and the broad, but manageable, gap between the upper and lower class mutated into a vicious Sarlacc pit by Wall St. skulkers and a rotten Congress, next year will certainly be remembered as one of those elections.

Typically, the 18-24 year olds of America are nonvoters. However, in 2016, through the boundless opportunities social media provides, the youth could, in a manner not seen in any other federal, state, or local election since Hunter Thompson’s 1970 campaign for Sheriff of Aspen, drastically influence the outcome of an election.

There is nearly four million of college-age in California alone. Through social media the huddled masses have a chance to speak up to the billionaires of this country and say defiantly, “Enough is Enough, our democracy is no longer for sale,” and be the deciding factor in who sits behind the Resolute Desk for the next four years; we just have to tweet the right hashtags.