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RMT's Mick Lynch and Eddie Dempsey are now influencers

How do young people consume news these days? Through social media and, in particular, TikTok.

Greg Devine


Teenage girl on her phone social networking

Recently, RMT’s Mick Lynch and Eddie Dempsey have gained popularity on the app. I’ve seen multiple videos of the pair. Some of the more viral videos come from Mick Lynch, like his infamous shut downs of various TV presenters pushing against the strikes the RMT are currently coordinating. Others are more informative, such as extracts from PoliticsJOE’s informal podcast with the pair. In one clip, Mr Lynch explains the history of social housing. I must admit, before watching this, I didn’t know much about the subject. I knew Thatcher had stopped much of it, but I didn’t know that the standard of social housing was arguably better before her interference than it is today.

Another clip talks about the unsociable hours rail workers must endure, and how the rail companies are trying to make their employees’ hours even more arduous and inhospitable—which is clearly unfair. Eddie Dempsey claims such working conditions can take ten years off an employee’s life. Whether that’s scientifically correct or not, you’d have to do your own research, but it’s certainly plausible.

I must admit, seeing videos like this has taken me on a bit of a political journey. I don’t mean one full of sewage, like Liz Truss’s, but one of discovery…finding where my beliefs lie—something that I think is difficult for teenagers and young adults to do as they navigate the opinions of everyone and their dog on social platforms. Holding an opinion these days is a dangerous game, but it’s so important that young people experience their own political journeys. Ultimately, my generation (I’m 20, for context) will be the one that feels the effects of climate change, of oil possibly running out, and the full extremes of technological advances. Which political party the majority of my generation chooses will decide what sort of world I’ll live in, and what my future children will inherit.

A brief glance at Twitter and it would appear that politics, at least here in the UK, is very much left wing—yet the UK is historically a conservative country. I think it will all depend on who and what is pushed onto us. Will it continue to be the likes of Mick Lynch and Eddie Dempsey or will younger versions of Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg bring about a new wave of right wingers?

Teenage girl in hospital bed browsing phone and social networking

Teenage girl in hospital bed browsing phone and social networking

My generation seems unwilling to do its own research; instead, our opinions follow the most popular view. We don’t form our own morals and beliefs—we think with the ‘like’ button in mind. I blame social media for this. Our minds are programmed to base everything we do around the number of likes, views and shares we’ll see. At the moment, having right-wing views means you won’t get any likes. You might get views, but they’ll be accompanied by hurtful comments, because this doesn’t fit the meta.

We also cannot debate at all. A ‘discussion’ between two people with differing views just becomes a slanging match, each person aiming to ‘win’ the argument and hammer home their point as the right one. For whatever reason, we can’t simply listen to someone’s opinion, disagree with it and still be civil with them. Those who do challenge opinions are quickly shot down, because they also don’t go about this in the right way. Piers Morgan, for example, is very good at challenging opinions but he cannot do this respectfully. This leads to people jumping on the ‘I hate Piers’ bandwagon, and, at times, he will eventually storm off from the debate. I’m not defending him, I’m just saying that, without people like Piers questioning people’s views, how can any opinion be a credible one?

This brings me full circle. As I write, I’m listening to our new influencers—Mick Lynch and Eddie Dempsey. They’re enjoying a normal, civilised discussion. I don’t agree with everything they’re saying, but I don’t think I’m supposed to. I’m forming my own opinions. Instead of sticking to these, however, I’ll allow them to be fluid. With more information, it’s possible that we may change our minds…and there’s nothing wrong with this.

I just wish today’s ‘opinion warfare’ would stop.

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