HendricksJohnAl_2012_Chapter12SocialMediaA_SocialMediaUsageAndIm.pdf

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130Chapter TwelveSocial Media and Youth ActivismRhon TeruelleIn the 1960s, the student movement and the Black Panther party were two examples of youth-drivensubcultural formations that were instrumental in helping actualize societal changes such as the end of theVietnam war and the extension of civil rights to minority groups (Agger, 2009; Flacks, 1969; Gitlin, 1980).And in the 1970s, punk rock helped define youth subcultures enacting social change. Punks, dissatisfied withthe status quo, established their own music, fashion, and lifestyle through a countercultural movement thatchallenged social norms (Hebdige, 1979; Laing, 1985; Marcus, 1989). Today, however, many critics thinkthat youth are not only disengaged from civic participation, but are equally “self-centered, narcissistic,competitive, confident and individualistic” (Bryner, 2010). Thus, an increasingly pessimistic attitude towardyoung people has become prevalent.Contrary to this popular discourse, some suggest that “many young people have found their voices and arespeaking up for change” (Ardizzone, 2005, para. 1). Others posit that countless youth are civically engagedand involved in movements outside traditional political groups such as trade unions and political parties. In avery concrete way, they see youth actively participating as social change agents (Chawla, 2002; Kennelly,2009; Rizzini, 2010). But have online sites been effectively utilized by youth interested in changing theworld? Is it even possible to do so? From the reworking of Pink Floyd’s anti-authoritarian anthem to“Ayatollah, Leave Those Kids Alone” as a rallying cry for Iranians, to discussions about organizing ayouth-led revolution, to a group determined to “kick apathy in the balls,” the answer appears to be aresounding “yes.” It also stands to reason that since youth spend countless hours on social media, these tooshould be primary tools for facilitating civic participation and activism. But is this reality or merelyperception?In an attempt to answer the aforementioned questions, this chapter explored the two most popular socialmedia, Facebook and Twitter, as resources for youth activism. Their potentiality for civic engagement asactivist groups and individuals was investigated. Young people discussed their perceptions of both activism(in general) and online activism (in particular). In sum, this chapter investigated the possibilities andlimitations of social media in promoting and facilitating youth activism.CONTEMPORARY YOUTH ACTIVISMCritics propose that young people’s apathy is symptomatic of their disengagement; from social issues ingeneral, and politics in particular. Many in the media have bemoaned the younger generation’sdisengagement and their primary concern with their own well-being coupled with their laziness, ignorance,and narcissism (Borba, 2010; Norman, 2006; Page, 2010). The reasons factored into this perceiveddisengagement include distrust of those in power, a sense of entitlement, and arrogance, just to name a few.

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