What Can You Do At Age Sixteen?

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Written by Gracielle Dedo

It’s October 29th, 2020. The presidential election creeps around the corner, only a mere five days away. Ideally, you’d be submitting your ballot within the mail or have made a plan to travel to the polls. There’s one small problem; you’re sixteen years old. It’s frustrating, to feel so powerless. The foundation of the United States is constructed upon giving citizens power through their vote. When you can’t do this, how does one hold power? You share your voice.

What Have Others Done?

 It was December 2019, the youngest person ever, at just age sixteen, was named Time Magazine’s person of the year. The cover featured an adolescent girl, standing only at 4’11, gazing at the sky. This image angered millions. Such a strong title and portrayal had named Greta Thunberg as one of the foremost influential people of the year. In her case, she would be called perhaps one of the youngest most important activism figures of her generation. It was 2018 when the chronicles of her demand for justice regarding the climate began. Greta was fifteen, she had won an essay contest for a local newspaper in May of that year. Fast-forward three months and Greta now found herself protesting before the Swedish parliament building, angered by the surplus amount of carbon emission produced by the country. At only sixteen, this was Greta. What are you able to do at sixteen?

What Platforms Can You Use?

 It would be unfair to carry every teenager to Greta’s standard. Naturally, not everyone will be named Time’s Person of the Year, but what are you able to do? Because of social media, teen activism has been on a gentle rise, sky-rocketing within the previous few years. Social media provides an outsized platform to easily share facts and opinions. Whether it’s just by reposting or simply throwing your feelings regarding a matter out there. The apps TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter provides the leading place for such matters. There are dangers to finding your news on a social networking platform, however; false claims are often made. It’s important to thoroughly research what you hold as a belief. Use the platform you have to repost, reblog, or retweet art, statistics, or general information that portray activism. Additionally, email or write a letter to your senator to share your frustrations and get your opinion heard. 

Use Empathy

Use your empathy. One must understand that the purpose of activism isn’t to feel better about oneself or to possess direct solo benefits. Activists serve to impact the planet for the greater good. Extremely relevant this past year is the act of attending a protest. This demonstration demands attention and change. At age sixteen, this can be one of the most powerful acts one can do, take it from Greta. Within the past years, protesting has accomplished astounding benefits. The March for Our Lives protest created the way for 50 gun laws to be passed since the Parkland Shooting. Due to protests, advancements have been made in mental state activism and global climate change. 

Irrespective of your dogmas, protesting is for everybody, young, and old. The act demonstrates the voice of the people, the true democratic ideal. The main takeaways here are to use your voice. Don’t stop once you’ve reached the legal voting age. Continue to challenge the norm, demand justice, and necessitate change.