Youth are already belittled by adults, particularly in the workforce, given that they are thought of as not having adequate experience, and thus, valuable insight. Destiny, 21, insists that “people often look down on younger adults because of the idea that they do not know any better.” Nowadays, because of the pandemic, the story has metamorphosed and not in favor of youth and young adults. Platforms like Google Teams or Zoom are double-edged weapons: although they are extremely helpful for having meetings and classes, young people found their voices left unheard or literally muted by these platforms. As a non-native English speaker and international student, I feel and experience the remnants of such platforms. Nonetheless, as a community of youth and young adults, we feel unheard. We feel voiceless. And, given that voice is power, we feel we are not being given the power we deserve.
Not only is this a problem, but the fact that we feel scared of sharing it is also a problem. Eva, 17, asserts that “I feel scared that the adults in my life will not understand or support me.” The fact that there are few to no safe spaces where we, youth, can share our thoughts and concerns on mental health, self-confidence, and power struggles with adults, is problematic. “It’s hard to share with my parents, and I feel shame if I share [self-confidence and mental health issues] with my friends. Taking a hold of this shame in a safe space will help me a lot,” explains Jalesha, 22.
Therein lies the importance of creative campaigns like #UnmuteMePlz—a social media creative campaign that is taking on the responsibility of creating these safe havens for youth and young adults where they can share their own stories, share advice, and converse. The launch event included the creation of creative masks, the sharing of wishes and desires, and most importantly, it included a panel with the youth creators of the campaign. They engaged with the event attendees by asking questions and telling them to move from side to side depending on whether they agreed or disagreed with the question. They allowed the public to take agency by participating in asking them questions or even answering questions the panel proposed. Likewise, the panelists explained the reasons behind the creation of their campaign and why it is important.
Follow the #UnmuteMePlz campaign on social media:
Or if you are between the ages of 12-24 and have some #UnmuteMePlz creative content that you would like to submit for consideration for the campaign please send in your submission with this form.. Each submission will get a $25 HEB gift card while supplies last: https://airtable.com/shr6aFKgLwS5Wlz3c