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TikTok and Instagram turned me into a leftist. Here’s how X (Twitter) helped me escape.

OPINION: Ironically, Libs of TikTok was one of the accounts that really informed me the most about some of the hard truths about leftism.

Social media plays a significant role in shaping the opinions of those 35 and under — it’s the primary news source for most in that age group, one survey found.

Some stats report that daily screen time for 16- to 24-year-olds is nearly eight hours among females and seven hours among males. To put that in perspective — that’s equivalent to the average time in a school day.

Regarding TikTok in particular, 44 percent of its regular news consumers are between 18 and 29, according to the Pew Research Center.

I am among that group — and my daily TikTok and Instagram usage nearly changed the trajectory of my life.

I grew up in Dallas and attended a Christian private school from kindergarten to eighth grade, and I wasn’t exposed to many alternative viewpoints. In my formative years, I was dedicated to and focused on my faith.

In sixth grade I got a cellphone, mostly so I could communicate and coordinate with my parents, who didn’t want me to have a phone, but allowed it for family logistics.

My interest in political and social issues took shape in eighth grade, when I increased my social media usage and began following feminist Instagram accounts, thanks to celebrities and influencers sharing posts and other algorithm suggestions.

Feminism, in and of itself, didn’t seem like a radical concept at first. But the accounts I viewed over time were intersectional feminist ones that intertwined their feminist messages with pro-choice and pro-LGBTQ messaging. This started to change my ideological outlook on the world. Highly emotional arguments from the left viewed over and over desensitized me.

Throughout high school, I continued ingesting countless hours of Instagram and TikTok content — and increasingly leftist political views. Looking back, I can see how social media drew me further and further away from reality, my family, and my faith.

By 2020, as a freshman in high school and at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19 pandemic, I was fully committed to leftist causes.

I even had the phrase “Black Trans Lives Matter” in my Instagram bio for a while. I took part in “Blackout Tuesday” on Instagram, posting my black square like a good little soldier, showing my solidarity with the cause. I knew very little about the Black Lives Matter group at the time.

In the winter of 2022, during my senior year of high school after viewing some right-leaning videos on YouTube that mentioned various tweets, I began actively using Twitter and started reading various news outlets using that platform rather than just getting news from TikTok and Instagram influencers.

I remember many of my peers when they mentioned Twitter at that time, said how awful it was and how “weird” Elon Musk seemed, the billionaire who had recently purchased the platform.

But I disagreed. The opinions I saw on Twitter under the leadership of a free speech proponent helped open my eyes to many arguments I had not known of in detail, such as the harm of “gender-affirming” surgeries on minors, biological men competing in women’s sports, and drag queen story hours.

Ironically, Libs of TikTok was one of the accounts that really informed me the most about some of the hard truths about leftism.

Seeing the realities of how children are being hurt by gender ideology and how detransitioners are treated when they speak out, it re-opened me up to more conservative ideas.

This conservative shift eventually led to a return to my faith and family.

In the summer after my senior year of high school, in 2023, I attended Turning Point USA’s Young Women’s Leadership Summit, where I heard many conservative female speakers, which helped increase my confidence in my views.

At the summit, I was also introduced to the Network of enlightened Women (NeW), a nonprofit tabling at the event. I went home and signed up to be a student member of their organization, excitedly telling my parents about the group.

Little did I know that within a year at Texas State University, I would be the president of our NeW chapter and become closely involved with the excellent organization. Our chapter in March hosted female sports activists Riley Gaines. The number of positive conversations I had with other female students shows there is hope for many young women in America to become conservative.

For those wondering how I might have avoided my left-turn, it’s important to remember that young people are susceptible to ideas. I was on my phone a lot — by myself — it was a recipe for disaster.

Parents need to be more involved. I was a normal angsty teenager — but with social media and a politically charged environment, the combination influenced me and many others my age negatively. I am so grateful I found my way back.

Virginia King is a student at Texas State University and a participant in the Network of enlightened Women’s 2024 Student Media Fellowship.

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