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Condescending to Millennial Voters


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By Kristen Santer

Snapchat and TurboVote partnered to roll out a program targeted at helping millennials register to vote in the election. (Courtesy of Flickr)

Snapchat and TurboVote partnered to roll out a program targeted at helping millennials register to vote in the election. (Courtesy of Flickr)

“How does your student loan debt make you feel? Tell us in three emojis or less.” This August tweet from Hilary Clinton immediately evoked public back lash. Although the tweet was sent over a year ago, this type of rhetoric has been infused throughout the 2016 presidential election in the hopes of convincing millennials to vote. While emojis and memes are hysterical and will certainly be our defining contributions to pop culture, tweets such as this are condescending.

The latest ploy derives from the popular millennial app Snapchat, which offers one-minute voter registration. Celebrities such as Dwayne Johnson and Jimmy Fallon recorded videos demonstrating how to use the app, encouraging young people to vote. This marks one too many patronizing attempts from older generations that are convinced that millennials only communicate through social media and memes.

Tumblr also recently included banners on their website that reminded users of National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 27, which offers encouragement to millennials without seeming condescending. Conversely, Snapchat advertised the streamlined registration and celebrity endorsement, as if millennials would not be interested in registering to vote unless the process was as short as possible and has our favorite celebrities to entertain us along the way.

A one-minute voter registration tactic will not convince disillusioned millennials to become involved in a political system that they feel treats them as unimportant and childlike. We are not so easily swayed despite the inherent charm and appeal of Dwayne Johnson.

This may come as a shock to everyone over the age of 35, but may millennials actually do want to be politically involved and keep themselves up-to-date with the current events and trends. We, like every other generation, have our own set of grievances that we would like to see addressed in the current election, including rising student debt and justice for police shootings.

A lot of support for Sanders derived from his forthcoming and sincere platform that addressed millennial concerns like the increasing student debt without seeming condescending or patronizing. As a result, Bernie Sanders received his biggest support from millennials, who convened in the thousands to see him during his campaign. Many people were surprised that a 75-year-old Jewish man from Brooklyn connected most with the millennial audience. According to a Gallup poll in May, 55 percent of millennials had a favorable opinion of Sanders, whereas 38 percent had a favorable view of Hillary Clinton and 22 percent of Donald Trump. Gallup categorized millennials as ages 20 to 36.

I am tired of being pandered to and hearing words like “adulting” and “entitled millennials.” Our generation recognizes that the game is full of broken promises, and we are fed up with it. I encourage everyone to vote come November, but dumbing down the election is not what should be done to the rising generation.

Kristen Santer, FCRH ’17, is a communication and media studies from Stamford, Connecticut.

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Condescending to Millennial Voters