Gen Z needs to step up to fix political polarization


Ari Kittrie

Political polarization and extremism in the United States has spiked over the last few years.

Eliana Wolf, Reporter

Twitter, TikTok, Fox News and CNN blast Americans with a never-ending stream of partisan editorializing. Nobody listens to each other anymore. Today’s polarization arose because Americans connect political viewpoints with morality. The gray areas between morality with political positions has led to skyrocketing intolerance in America. 

Past generations have proven to be incapable of healing the divide, with many of the leaders in government unwilling to focus on bipartisanship, rather on passing their party’s agenda. Generation Z, the generation from 1997 to 2010, is the only way for our country to heal the divide between parties.

Gen Z needs to focus its energy on engaging in proper political discussion with people that have different political beliefs. They also need to work to eliminate bias in media outlets that are supposed to provide news without partiality. Lastly, they need to learn to support individual policies, instead of parties and their agendas. 

The culture around political intolerance has shifted in the past 50 years. According to a Brown University study, around the clock partisan media and ideological silos led to increasing polarization in America. 

Eliminating political differences would hurt society, if it were even possible. Our political system is designed to embrace differences in thought and opinion. Thus, Gen Z needs to learn to embrace these differences with civility and tolerance.

A Pew Research Study on social trends of Gen Z shows that Gen Z is the most educated generation to date. With their increased access to social media and the difference in perspective they have from spending their formative years in a pandemic, Gen Z is in a unique position to find objective truths online to ensure that political information is unbiased and accurate. 

Gen Z needs to decipher what is fact and what is fabricated. We need to use our education to call out those in the media and online who are making statements that have no factual basis, and receive news from reliable sources.

Another Pew Research study showed that 97% of Gen Z uses social media, and algorithms such as the Instagram Feed and the Twitter Timeline Feed give Gen Z the viewpoints that they agree with. Instead of being restricted to the media given by algorithms, it is vital to reach out across the aisle and listen to others’ beliefs. It is easier said than done, but reaching out to people of different beliefs is the only path for America to heal its divisions. 

Over time, Gen Z will become increasingly important to solving the epidemic of intolerance in America today. If they use social media and their education to learn about topics, rather than partisan positions, their true values will shine. Be open enough to vote for the other party if its positions on issues mirror yours.

If Gen Z fails to bring open-mindedness to political discussion, then the gap between Republicans and Democrats will grow. With conspiracy theories all over the internet and the number of unreliable sources on social media, it is extremely difficult to reverse the misinformation trends in America. It is up to us to engage in respectful political discussion on social media. Then, we can vote according to our values, not our parties. 

As we watch dignity and decency crumble, it is our obligation to reverse this trend. Doing so will take brave, young people who are willing to read the news that does not align with their viewpoints. When this happens, Gen Z will build a society based on decency and discourse, rather than partisanship and hate.