By the Teens, For the Teens
Georgiana Soo, Division 2, 11th grade
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One of our environment’s greatest fundamental fallacies today is the false belief that the school system prepares you for life. Mark Twain once said, “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Wise words indeed because really, education is not equivalent to school, whatever misconceptions most people may have. And ultimately, this socially catastrophic myth is the biggest epidemic in the environment today. One would expect the 21st century, an age of technology and mass media, to be a time for thriving intellectuals, new visionaries with perceptive ideas. Instead, the 21st century has done worse than all its predecessors considering its tools, churning out a teenage population with the lowest social awareness in years. In this society controlled by surface-level inquiry, we get diluted information from liberal sources, who dictate our opinions and thoughts. We get questionable information and pointless gossip. We get a socially uneducated and frankly, disinterested mass who have learned not to question what the news churns out and what the consensus believes in. I am realistic. I know what I can and cannot do, given my circumstances and options now. Knowing this, I will not pretend I can stop global warming or save the drought by getting everyone to shower less. But I know that I have social media at my fingertips and the will to write in my mind. Technology is a double-edged sword. But if it can be used to feed useless information to the masses, it can also be used to feed legitimate concern to the public and give them a much-needed voice. The first step to tackling this virus of a socially uneducated youth is to utilize what they know best, social media and technology, and write to the public with it. Because as the pen is mightier than the sword, my words online can do its part to make the world a better place.

Frankly speaking, there is no simple shortcut to cure the world of socio-political indifference. And yet, all this lamentation is not to say our world is done for and there is nothing we can do. Because after all, everyone plays a part, as cheesy as that may seem. And for someone like me, a high-schooler with neither the funds of a billionaire nor the recognition of a politician to alert the masses, I must use the very gifts I have on hand. Growing up a millennial, I understand the importance of social media and I know how to use it. And if teenagers refuse to read traditional news sites, then social media it is. I do not mean to say writing about social issues in an attempt to share my thoughts on the web will immediately reach millions. But starting small by talking about this prevalent issue of the disinterest in social education can play its part. I can make my environment a better place simply by the power of my words. After all, it does not take a rocket scientist to read and understand an article online.

The difference and positive change I can make in the world through picking up a digital pen is put very simply in the words of former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, “Normally, when we need to know about something, we go to experts, but we tend to forget that when we want to know about youths and what they feel and what they want, we should talk to them.” Simply put, my environment, the surroundings I live and operate in, is a field of underrepresentation, where the young have no actual voice in mainstream media to relate to. Given the situation, it should not be a surprise that the youth lack any concern in social knowledgeability at all, when similar-minded writers to empathize with are scarce. But that can change, and that is something I can change. Writing online is free and it is empowering, not just to myself, but to my peers as well. Teenagers writing for teenagers mean our community suddenly has a voice, an opinion outlet. It takes people with the direct connectivity to this millennial age to glue the pieces together.

Truth be told, I have already seen a difference, something that convinces me that I am actively making my environment a better place. My journalism articles and op-eds on the various problems of our youth today, like the importance of public speaking or the need for personal philosophy, have received feedback from many of my peers, who tell me I put into perspective something they never would have thought of. Because after all, what better way to communicate with a group of people than to write to them as their equal. I am not the New York Times or the esteemed president of an Ivy League school and I do not pretend to be. I offer my peers the opportunity to read about their lives and the environment they live in from the eyes of someone on their level. It is this growth in people and this change being exacted that has me convinced I am at least influencing my immediate environment positively in one way or another.

And because Mark Twain is just so good at quotes, I will refer back to the man himself for his always applicable wisdom. “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” The reality is that our adult society is just so convinced it has the world completely figured out that it has overlooked the most basic flaws in our apparently flawless system. But anything made by man can be destroyed by man. It will not be easy crushing the longstanding staples our society holds, but, with a keyboard and a computer screen, anything is possible.
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