High school was the time when my political consciousness was just starting to manifest. Up to that point, I had not paid much attention to politics and all I knew was my family, that I loved Obama, and that I was a Democrat. To me and my friends, 2016 was a year like any other. We just exclaimed randomly without much knowledge of who we thought should win, which was mainly based on our parents’ political affiliation. I started to get into the political fray through YouTube. I was a gamer so it generally followed that I would watch YouTube videos for my favorite gamers and streamers which led me to watch different commentators who talked about games. Since 2016, something has changed on YouTube. Every commentator had started commenting on things in a slightly political way.
It was the advent of the anti-social justice warrior sentiment, with many videos of people on “the left” crying or seemingly overreacting to things. This created a view of politics in me, which I was antagonistic towards, but still my political literacy was not too high. Politics really came to the forefront in 11th grade when the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting happened. All I knew at the time was that gun control was necessary, but I was met with opposition by friends who were conservative, and after that one conservative-leaning friend who was really into politics had a really huge argument with me, essentially, on every political topic.
As a liberal, I tried to combat this situation but did not have the necessary knowledge and I ended up being humiliated. Since he was a friend I took what he said to heart, and began to look into his ideas. This took me to the right wing pipeline which was huge on YouTube at the time. I started watching Ben Shapiro, Young Americans for Freedom, Steven Crowder and many more right-wing conservative and “libertarian” youtubers. My head was filled with so much right-wing information that I felt I had reached the pinnacle of political consciousness. It wasn’t until around the end of 12th grade when I started getting pushback from my more left-leaning friends that I realized a lot of the conservative arguments either had no basis or were based on faulty evidence or fabricated information. Many of the fears I realized conservatives had were just based on culture war issues that were fueled by bigotry and fear.
At the time I didn’t draw this conclusion, but as I went back to watch after vigorously doing my own research for weeks without having any influence from YouTube. I was able to see just how flawed the side I once belonged to truly was. I really thought conservatives had the answer, which was that the United States was as great as it could be, and that the world just needed to follow our example and stay under our benevolence. I had my biggest transformation when I started reading theory from various economic perspectives while also reading data and historical trends. I read about liberation movements from Africa, to Latin America, also South and Southeast Asia. I read about labor relations in America and in Europe. I was able to see the socioeconomic intersections of class, race and gender. Reading the economic and political history of the United States and other countries which had different modes of production throughout history. I went in with an open mind to understand places like Soviet Union with all its satellite countries like Ukraine and Yugoslavia. Then moving on to places like Mao's China, Vietnam, Venezuela and Cuba. I also read about imperialism and the rise of capitalist nations (most of the world) and what actually caused them to rise, as well as how well the countries work for different stratums of the society in the developed nations (Europe and the Americas) from the 19th century to now.
The deep dive into this material is what made me decide I was a staunch leftist, and it made me want to reach lofty goals to make the world a better place. Now standing armed with all this information while having good solutions, I feel that working from different areas such as electoralism (policy making), grassroots and intersectional labor, civil rights, feminist, indigenous, liberation etc. organizations as well as supporting movements abroad is the best way forward to really make the world a better place for everyone. We need to focus on things like criminal justice reform, fixing mental health, improving labor rights, and making sure every human is provided with the dignity and respect they deserve in the form of housing, healthcare, and food security, for every single person. Everyone should have a livable wage. Climate change has to be identified as the threat it is and action needs to be ramped up immensely on a global scale while reworking our economic modes of production so that we and our children can enjoy this beautiful world we live in. Poverty needs to be eradicated, our education system reworked, racism, sexism, and discrimination of all kinds whether it be gender, ethnicity, ablest, classist etc. need to be tackled and taken care of. The political and socioeconomic structure that the world is experiencing in different flavors need to all be rectified and meet the needs of the people. The demand for a better world cannot and will never stop, all the means are there, it's all about the political will to reach these goals which I believe will be achieved.