The Impact of Generation Z

As the number of new Generation Z voters begins to intensify, different opinions and ideas have been formulated, based on recent technological and media advancements in today's society. In more recent elections, social media has been a huge aspect towards the development of the views people have on their candidates. Tony Blair states, “No matter how available and open government/ leadership is today, it doesn't matter, because of the way politics is reported” (Cunningham). Despite the benefits of people being more informed and involved in our government system, could a public figure with an important social presence use selective exposure and a lack of fact checking to deceive their followers? The spread of misinformation has been a prevalent issue with political leaders in our world. Eight separate experiments conducted by these authors, showed that people are “less likely to fact-check statements when they perceive the presence of others, even direct social interaction or feedback” (Jun, Meng, Johar). In the present day, people are given the access to any information at their fingertips, it’s crucial to be able to recognize the difference between misinformation and facts. As these new voters begin to have a larger influence over the United States election turnout, it's important to decipher facts from made-up stories, and to trust that our political candidates are sharing true information with their supporters.   

  Social media has an extensive impact on the lives of a majority of the members of Generation Z. Popular apps including Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram make it easy to influence both older and younger generations. Social media criterion is severely manipulated to appeal to any specific individual making those apps easily engaging to different audiences. Influencers from all different types of platforms can have intense impacts on their supporters, as they live a highly sought-after, lavish life. Their followers all over the world look up to them, and listen to their beliefs and ideas. Current media recently has been a key factor towards influencing people's ideas in political elections. Having a presence on many media sites is principal towards gaining a widespread and diverse variety of supporters along with online campaigning. “Social media platforms as emerging political spaces have paved the way for re-conceptualization of political engagement, especially among the youth” (Lim). With the constant sharing of posts and varied opinions, candidates have to be careful about everything that they say or do. Innovative online tools such as Zoom and Youtube are used to change the traditional election customs. Instagram and snapchat both featured voting encouragement to its users.  In the future candidates that don't necessarily change their methods to appeal to these current technologies would be left at a severe disadvantage towards gaining younger generation voters. The internet is rigorously impacting the general nature of political competition. According to research,  information systems contribute two different perspectives to research on politics, the first one being process centric which label campaigns as a set of steps that you could theoretically follow. Then comparison of technologies and matching features to behaviors and outcomes. This implies that the internet is not a monolithic concept and due to the many capabilities of social media apps, users can comment and rate on posts; displaying different behaviors. Eventually the use of the second perspective will be more prevalent. (Wattal, Schuff, Mandviwalla, Williams). Viewing our government system in this way can help to change the stigma behind previous election standards. “Political and media elites interact for mutual advantage, deal-making and power assertion and, where necessary, power-sharing.” (Cunningham). The merging between the elite media and political leaders will be helpful in the process of gaining a diverse, collective group of supporters. When the elite interests don't necessarily align it has shown that it could seriously affect political decision-making. Media elites can give people a different point of view of their leaders, “you get to know your pollies in roughly the same fashion you get to know TV personalities” (Cunningham). Talk shows or podcasts can display politicians in a different light, rather than how they were seen before. Now they're being seen as more similar to everyday people. In summary, both modernist and postmodernist traditions have a similar underlying correspondence in ideas; they both agree with the effects of the mainstream media and the power that it could give to political leaders and their management. 

When choosing a political candidate,  important characteristics should include honesty and loyalty. Having distrust in our own government system would only make the country progress more and more downhill. According to studies, people are less likely to fact-check someone with a well-known social media presence. “ the wake of the 2016 US presidential election, leading some to accuse the internet- and social media in particular-  on distorting our collective grasp on the truth.” (Jun, Meng, Johar). In eight different experiments taken to test this thought; these scientists concluded that many individuals would usually just rely on other people to fact-check it. The article compares this theory to the bystander effect, or they might simply agree to try to appeal to conversational norms. Due to the current media landscape allowing people access more knowledge than ever before, many people choose to read their political content on social media apps, opposed to the news. As social media progresses we will learn more information about how to limit / stop the spread of misinformation. Additionally, another theoretical issue in the media is selective exposure. Some people are concerned that in a debate, the candidate isn't being fully expressive about what they know about our country with the intention of making themselves look better. “Overtime analysis suggests that people's political beliefs motivate their media use patterns and that cable news audiences became increasingly politically divided over the course of the 2004 election” (Stroud). The wide variety of media resources that are used today can be affecting your own personal political views. One example of this is after the US invaded Iraq to destroy weapons of mass destruction in 2003, people had many questions and concerns. The people that viewed Fox News were more likely to believe that there was a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda than those who watched PBS or listened to NPR. The fundamental reason this could be an issue is that citizens are developing different views of the world that we live in. Due to the fact that there is no communally shared source of information, it would be challenging to have the majority of people agree on one singular way of running our government. Selective exposure is an easily debatable topic that stems from people's personal beliefs guiding their media selections. 

Theoretically, overtime as social media advances along with other media outputs, there will be more ways to help limit the spread of misinformation and be able to receive all your information from whichever source that you choose and have it be knowingly true. Despite the source you choose to follow, don’t hesitate to fact check information for yourself before immediately believing the first thing you read.  


Works Cited

Cook, DM, et al. “Twitter Deception and Influence: Issues of Identity, Slacktivism, and Puppetry.” Journal of Information Warfare, vol. 13, no. 1, 2014, pp. 58–71. JSTOR, Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

Cunningham, Stuart. “Political and Media Leadership in the Age of YouTube.” Public Leadership: Perspectives and Practices, edited by Paul Hart and John Uhr, ANU Press, 2008, pp. 177–186. JSTOR, Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

Jun, Youjung, et al. “Perceived Social Presence Reduces Fact-Checking.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 114, no. 23, 2017, pp. 5976–5981. JSTOR, Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

Lim, Niel Niño. “Novel or Novice: Exploring the Contextual Realities of Youth Political Participation in the Age of Social Media.” Philippine Sociological Review, vol. 57, 2009, pp. 61–78. JSTOR, Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

Soroka, Stuart N., et al. “It's (Change in) the (Future) Economy, Stupid: Economic Indicators, the Media, and Public Opinion.” American Journal of Political Science, vol. 59, no. 2, 2015, pp. 457–474. JSTOR, Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

Stroud, Natalie Jomini. “Media Use and Political Predispositions: Revisiting the Concept of Selective Exposure.” Political Behavior, vol. 30, no. 3, 2008, pp. 341–366. JSTOR, Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.