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The Blue and White

How Tik Tok Radicalized Gen Z

     The radicalization of Gen Z on both sides of the political spectrum is something we are already seeing the repercussions of in real time but will be most apparent in the coming years with the new presidency. Tik Tok is a platform that provides a stream of news and information unlike any other app currently on the market, it’s presence is largely Gen Z and Millennials, creating a sense of community that is uncommon with other social media apps. It is probably single handedly responsible for shaping the views of millions of teens and young adults. With it’s extremely personalized algorithm, users are able to see exactly what they want, which is good and bad, as it’s never beneficial to be trapped in an echo chamber. What makes Tik Tok so handy is it’s duet feature, allowing various opinions and discussions to happen without ever interacting with a certain “side”. With a generation of kids with decreasing attention spans due to our overwhelming presence on the internet, Tik Tok’s bite size videos are perfect for us. 

     Tik Tok’s algorithm really shined and showed it’s biases during the months the BLM protests took place. You were able to get raw, unfiltered videos from the front lines posted by people at protests, no news outlet to doctor up and edit anything. However these videos were only available if you were on the right “side” of Tik Tok, if you were already engaged with BLM, anti-police, leftist content you were more likely to see this new form of photojournalism. If you had already aligned yourself with right wing, ALM or pro-blue lives creators and content, then you would see videos of the protests that fit your views. The content during this time politicized the app, and suddenly there were two sides, left and right. Both sides, full of teens and impressionable minds, were given an all access pass to videos full of violence and borderline war crimes. No one told you how to feel or react to this, depending on your algorithm and the creators and content you chose to interact with, these few months will completely change the political identity of millions of us. 

     The protests opened up conversations about “the revolution”, a term that gets tossed around and has almost lost all of it’s political charge due to its overuse. The response to the protests from citizens, police, media and even our President opened our eyes to the faults in the system. Seeing friends, family, idols and even complete strangers bloodied and bruised sparks an anger that cannot be described. And the response we got was unsatisfactory, no actual change has taken place or will if we continue to be soft hearted liberals. Que the entrance of “leftism”. Socialism, communism, anarcho-communists, dem-socialists. ‘The Communist Manifesto’, the intricate differences between Marxist theory and Maoism. I could tell you all about the mistakes of the USSR and what Vietnam got right. The thing about leftism and allowing yourself to be open to socialist/communist theory, is there is a name and community for every single route we could possibly take to achieve such a dream state. Anarcho-communists believe a communist society will only be brought to fruition by the anarchy that will come with the inevitable revolution of the proletariat. Whereas the more digestible democratic-socialists, argue that capitalism is fine and dandy, and that we should focus on introducing more socialist programs in a democratic manner. Whatever you want, there’s sure to be something for you. 

     It would be bold of me to say, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the radicalized left wing youth of today. Believing in a certain political theory poses no real threat, many acknowledge that while our generation is more progressive and politically aware, we are in no means the generation that will carry the revolution. However it is our job to do our part and to do what we can, voting and protesting and such. The real problem lies with the radicalization of the right wing, and this isn’t controversial at all, as truthfully it’s only a matter of history. The far right have a history of being racist, ableist, trans and homophobic. It is something so inherently them that they acknowledge it publicly and align themselves with leaders that do little to condemn their actions, see the KKK and their support of Donald Trump. The most popular example of how dangerous the far right can be would be Nazi’s of course, as well as fascists and Nazi/fascist-sympathizers. Right wing content is a sure fire way of introducing dangerous ideologies that preach violence and intolerance towards actual people. We’ve seen this in the rise of racially charged hate crimes and the return of anti-semticism.

     The right didn’t always have such a bad reputation and ties to violence, with careful leadership the radicalization of the far right could be deescalated. As long as we as a country make a strong effort to return to tolerance and peace in these upcoming years. We don’t need to turn America blue, but as neighbors and citizens of a country that prides itself on being the land of the free and equal opportunities, it is time we fix ourselves up and return to the world stage as a country to be proud of. And I think Gen Z are the ones for the job.

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  • S

    Shay LambieFeb 18, 2021 at 7:11 pm

    I love your take on this topic! Social media (especially tiktok) has also widened gen z’s views because parents don’t have much control over what their children see online.

  • M

    MyeshaNov 17, 2020 at 12:30 am

    This is such an amazing article and point of view for young lady to take. I think she did well presenting facts about the app & what you were able to see at various times. I also know you can can look content too in order to get more prospective. Terrific job, Amiyah!!