Politics entering social media causes reactions among Gen Z

By utilizing social media platforms due to the rise of users on social media throughout the past years, politicians cause positive and negative reactions from some of social media’s most prominent users: Generation Z.


Keeping up with the Bidens…Waiting for the bus on December 9, Indian Valley Middle School eighth grade student Cam Elwell scrolls through President-Elect Joe Biden’s Instagram page. Biden posts informative, and sometimes personal, photos and videos.

Increasing social media popularity is causing politicians to join digital platforms throughout the recent decade, resulting in some of Generation Z to form opinions on politicians’ presences on social media.
Many members of Gen Z continue to grow up with social media, causing them to possibly be more immersed in political ideas that have made their way to their favorite platforms.
According to sophomore Jessica Freedman, politics should have a place on social media because social media provides a great platform for accessing and spreading information.
Freedman says that politicians usually use social media in two ways: as a way to spread factual information or as an advertising tool.
According to Freedman, there is a difference between politicians using social media for a billboard of themselves and delivering essential information to people on those mainstream platforms, who are very impressionable and don’t generally fact-check.
“With [politicians] like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, there’s a great level of advocacy. There’s a great level of delivering factual information,” Freedman said.
Freshman Kaylyn Scanlon believes that politicians should use social media as “a voice to the people.”
According to Scanlon, using social media in this way is a more effective tool for politicians when it comes to trying to reach different audiences.
Freshman Hailey Riexinger said that she noticed how the increase of politics on social media has inflicted more progressive change because the users on social media are “able to see different traits” of officials in varying roles of the government.
Freedman believes it is important that politicians are releasing completely factual information, and are held accountable if they aren’t, for these positive outcomes to occur.
According to Freedman, politicians are in “such a high place” of power and that they “have to control the spreading of fraudulent information” because it can be very harmful to people who believe it.
U.S. Representative Madeleine Dean said that she “prizes accuracy” when posting on social media and is very aware that false information is damaging and can “spread like wildfire.”
To expand the range of generations in her audience, Dean actively posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Dean posts press releases, videos talking directly to her audiences, occasionally personal posts and partakes in live streams.
“We’re in this age of ‘don’t trust Wikipedia, anyone can edit Wikipedia,’ but then we run to Instagram, believing the first post we see,” Freedman said.
Some people of Gen Z also feel that politicians on social media are not sufficiently connecting with them.
Riexinger said that she felt that Gen Z was “belittled” and “underestimated” by politicians. Riexinger said to improve this that politicians should listen more to Gen Z’s wants and needs.
Scanlon said that politicians can improve their connections with their young audience by incorporating popular people or the trends of Gen Z into their social media platforms.
“One example that comes to mind is when Cardi B and Joe Biden did an interview together,” Scanlon said.
According to Scanlon, it is important for politicians to establish good relationships and respect Gen Z because they make life-changing decisions for that generation.
Pa. State Representative Tracy Pennycuick said that social media is a “good mechanism to reach a lot of people inexpensively.”
“I have benefited from social media because I didn’t have a wide public presence prior to my running for office and social media certainly let people know my positions on issues,” Pennycuick said.
According to Dean, “people are paying attention to social media,” because social media is becoming a primary news source.
“All the various social media platforms are really valuable tools to communicate lightly but also to communicate the substance of what we’re working on,” Dean said.
Both Dean and Pennycuick said that being a politician on social media brings more “trolls” and struggles.
According to Pennycuick, “trolls” often have “knee-jerk reactions” when it comes to responding to what she, as a politician, has to say on certain topics.
“It’s unfortunate because I think politicians do work together and you can come to common ground and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing,” Pennycuick said.
Overall, Pennycuick said she appreciates social media when it comes to spreading information and communicating with others.
“I think it’s always going to be evolving and evolution is good for our society. It keeps us connected. It keeps dialogue going,” Pennycuick said.