SHIFTING: Gen Z, TikTok, and Politics

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Source: AP / AURN Graphic
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Gen Z’s most powerful Political weapon: TikTok?

Most of us knew TikTok as the app where teenagers upload funny videos, viral dances and whatever else ‘cool’ Gen Z thinks is entertaining. What we didn’t see coming was a new wave of political action, initiated by Gen Z on the app, referred to as “TikTok Politics.” Yes, I know! It’s hard to believe today’s young’ins actually care about more than what move comes next after “I’m a Savage.” These brilliant Zoomers managed to use TikTok as their greatest political weapon. So, sit back and enjoy 5 times Gen Z won politics and flipped the wigs of old white rich men!

Sabotaging Trump’s rally attendance

Imagine the Cheeto’s face when he realized that he might have had a successful rally at Tulsa, Oklahoma, if it weren’t for those meddling TikTok kids. With over one million ticket reservations and only 6,200 attendees actually showing up, the venue—which seats 19,200—didn’t even reach half its capacity! This was all thanks to K-Pop fans and TikTok users who encouraged their fellow users to register for the rally with no intention of attending. We Stan a protest you have to keep on the hush hush. Thanks, TikTok!

The GameStop frenzy

Pedestrians pass a GameStop store on 14th Street at Union Square, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, in the Manhattan borough of New York. Robinhood and other online trading platforms are moving to restrict trading in GameStop and other stocks that have soared recently due to rabid buying by smaller investors. GameStop stock has rocketed from below $20 to more than $400 this month as a volunteer army of investors on social media challenged big institutions who has placed market bets that the stock would fall. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

When GameStop’s shares hit a record high in January of this year, hundreds of TikTok users posted videos explaining the surge. Teens across the country, many who have never even thought of buying shares, learned about the stock market from these videos. A mother on Twitter tweeted, “I’ve been trying to get my daughter interested in investing for a couple of years now. No luck. Today she says, ‘Dad I want to buy my first stock’. I say let me guess, it’s GameStop. She says ‘No, AMC’. Apparently the craziness is all over TikTok… and won’t be ending soon.”

Not only did Gen Z find creative ways to teach their peers about the stock market, they also exposed Robinhood, a popular investing app that was stealing from the poor and giving to the already filthy rich. Once the Zoomers found out that Robinhood restricted young investors from buying GameStop shares after a group on Reddit found the opportunity to make money and also take a dig at Wall Street, the TikTok videos started rolling in to expose the trifling app. This “cancel” culture seems to be a hit with Gen Z!

Changed the course of the 2021 election

FILE – In this Monday, Oct. 12, 2020 file photo, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, uses his smartphone during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Researchers from NATO StratCom, a NATO-accredited research group based in Riga, Latvia, paid three Russian companies 300 euros ($368) to buy 337,768 fake likes, views and shares of posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, including content from verified accounts of Senators Grassley and Chris Murphy. Both senators consented to participate. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

Kicking Trump and his wig out of the White House may have been one of the most glorious moments to experience. We have so many people to thank for helping make this dream come true, such as Stacy Abrams, the Black Vote, and awesome celebrities who used their platforms. But the Gen Z TikTokers should get their praise too. In the lead-up to the U.S. presidential election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, Zoomers found creative ways on TikTok to urge American youth to vote. According to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, the high youth vote turnout reached 52%-55%, which was significantly higher than the 45%-48% turnout of 2016. Maybe we can get President Biden and Vice President Harris to bless us with a “thank you” dance routine on TikTok.

#BlackLivesMatter

FILE – In this June 14, 2020, file photo, people participate in a Caribbean-led Black Lives Matter rally at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza in New York. Amnesty International is calling on New York City and state officials to ban law enforcement from using facial recognition technology, used to spy on Black Lives Matter protesters, saying it threatens the civil rights of “marginalized” communities. (AP Photo/Kathy Willen, File)

After the unfortunate and horrific murder of George Floyd, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter resurged across all social media platforms. Gen Z TikTokers of all races raised awareness of systematic racism through their videos. Today, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has over 25 billion views and millions of shares on TikTok. These videos are promoting equality and peaceful protests and highlighting what the media won’t show the rest of the world. TikTok Zoomers even came together on Malcom X’s birthday and changed their profile pictures to the black power symbol as a show of unity and to speak out about racism. Lastly, thanks to TikTok, many users were able to access information on petitions to sign, places to donate, and when/where different protests were occurring. Now THAT is powerful!

LGBTQ+ communities skyrocket in popularity

Stephanie Carr, left, and her wife Mia Carr, of Los Angeles, attend the All Black Lives Matter march, organized by black LGBTQ+ leaders, on Sunday, June 14, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Paula Munoz)

In a world where sexual freedom is still such a taboo, LGBTQ+ teens have found TikTok to be a safe haven. Not only do many TikTok users praise other users for staying true to themselves and telling their stories, but activism in the LGBTQ+ community is apparent on the app. TikTok has given young people an incredible platform to share their political views no matter what their sexual orientation. Essentially, this is helping to normalize the LGBTQ+ community by offering a safe space for queer Gen Z TikTokers to educate and speak their truth! Hip Hip Hooray for TikTok!

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