Today President Obama did a live-stream Q&A on Tumblr with David Karp (founder of Tumblr) answering user’s questions focusing on student debt and touching on recent school shootings.
I’ve always been particularly cynical when it comes to the Government and Congress, most of the time with good reason. But it does give me hope that the Obama administration is actively trying to reach out to young people through technology and the media, to open the door to positive conversation. Especially on topics that are tangibly relevant to every millennial at this point in their lives.
Student debt is a BIG deal for me and so many other students, and some don’t realize how big until after they’ve graduated. Something I appreciated President Obama talking about was balancing the desire to follow your dreams vs. practicality. It’s great if you want to do something you love, but be prepared to back it up with a concrete way to support yourself financially. Money isn’t the most important thing, but in reality, it is something that affects the way you live day-to-day.
Ultimately, you are going to do best at something you care deeply for. But you still have to grind it out. Your career isn’t always a straight line. Sometimes you have to take a job to pay the bills. And sometimes you take a big risk, like building something called Tumblr.
Turning away from college debt, President Obama answered a question about school shootings. I was disappointed with the way he chose to tie in gun control (which is an issue, just not the one I wanted him to talk about) instead of addressing the problem of mental illness in teens and young adults. An estimated 20% of adolescents (13-18 year olds), either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder. That translates into 1 in every 5.
I rarely see politicians talking about this issue, even though it is becoming more prevalent in our society. America does not have many well-funded programs for those struggling with mental illnesses. On a more personal note, I know multiple people who have been denied psychiatric/therapeutic help because their symptoms were not severe enough! Most people simply cannot afford private counseling but still need more help than a suicide hotline can give. This is not the way to help those who are suffering from things like depression, or who struggle with self-harm. Mental illness is not an just a pessimistic attitude or a phase, it is a serious medical condition that can be treated if/when needed. In order to bring the violence we see in schools down, we need to address both the root cause of the violence as well as the tools used to carry it out.
Overall, I was excited to see the Obama Administration reach out to the younger generation through social media. I think it is a great sign that the government is willing to adapt and use the resources that have been growing rapidly in the past decade in a way that reaches out to the people and makes them feel like they do have an impact and their voices are being heard. Whether this will actually make a tangible impact on anything is another issue, but this, at least, is a step in a positive direction.
Did you tune in to the President’s Q&A? What did you think about what he had to say? Let me know in the comments!