In this digital age, it's easy for us to say that we're political. Using social media, we rant, retweet, and repost. We share all our thoughts—both good and bad—on how we view certain matters, how we find some politicians, and how we think of government decisions.
Unfortunately, while freedom of speech is a right we all have, we sometimes overstep our bounds. Case in point: Too much social media bashing. For example, if we don't like a particular public servant, we share countless negative articles about them, regardless of whether or not the claims are true. We let our preconceived notions overshadow the facts.
Instead of politely speaking our minds, many of us repeatedly share articles and videos, punctuating every post with angry commentary.
We may think that we are being good and political for sharing these things, but we're just being spiteful. We ourselves aren't perfect, so we have no right to call out others impertinently both online and offline. The best we can do is to limit our sharing while being polite. But if you really want to get political, take your cue from student Joshua Wong!
Joshua Wong is a Hong Kong student activist, known internationally for his prominent role in 2014's Umbrella Revolution—a peaceful political movement dedicated to making Hong Kong autonomous from China. He founded political groups Scholarism (at the age of 14!) and Demosist? with his friends.
His leadership skills, however, have resulted in him being detained in prison for hours, as well as being banned from several countries. But despite criticism and punishment, it's amazing to see how passionate Joshua is, and how willing he is to make a stand. This has led to his inclusion in TIME's Most Influential Teens of 2014, nomination for TIME's Person of the Year 2014, and his participation in the award-winning Netflix documentary Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower.
Here are three major takeaways we got from Joshua:
- Age is just a number.
Joshua was only 14 when he began, meaning we can start as early as now!
- You won't always succeed, and that's okay.
Letting our voices be heard won't be easy, but we, like Joshua, must persevere in fighting for what's right.
- The goal is to be passionate enough to make a difference.
The goal is not to be violent; rather, it's to be peaceful in taking our stance. We should fight for what we believe in, not by rude rants online, but by respectfully making a difference.
A word of warning, though: Being too political can sometimes be a flaw. While it's great that you care about your future, life is about balance. Too much of that may reflect badly upon you. For example, rallies are great for showcasing solidarity—your professors may even encourage you to attend one! However, too many protests can distract you from your duties and put you in a bad light. Show up to events at your own risk, and be a judge of which rallies are nonviolent; your behavior may alienate future colleagues and company heads in the future.
Of course, you can still post on social media—as long as you do it tastefully.
Yes, we love getting our opinions heard; sharing article after article with our two cents' worth is tempting. But maybe we can limit ourselves to one article per week—fact-checked and from a reliable source, of course—with a small paragraph stating our opinion respectfully. Too much ranting makes us look rude. Worst case scenario: We'll get rejected from our future jobs after background checks, or maybe have our college acceptance letters rescinded like those 10 Harvard students.
One thing's for sure though: Being political will never be easy. However, despite its risks, we know being passionate is the only way to change our future. So let's remember to ultimately be peaceful and respectful in making a difference. With that, we can all proudly take our stand for a better tomorrow.
We know being passionate is the only way to change our future. So let's remember to ultimately be peaceful and respectful in making a difference. With that, we can all proudly take our stand for a better tomorrow.