“This is all of our responsibility”: Sharon McMahon speaks to issues in civic education 

Reading Time: 3 minutes In an interview given to The Review, social media influencer Sharon McMahon speaks to the issues that are plaguing civic education, U.S. politics and misinformation on the internet.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Review recently had a chance to sit down with former high school educator and current social media influencer Sharon McMahon, talking about the current issues facing civic education, polarization in politics and her rise to fame. 

Sharon McMahon rose to prominence after gaining a large following on social media during the 2020 presidential election. Through her platform, she has sought to spread “nonpartisan information about democracy.” She has gained over one million followers on Instagram, with the number growing every day. She has also begun to host a podcast called “Here’s Where It Gets Interesting.” 

“I have these moments where I am like, ‘Why would all these people want to come see me?’” McMahon said in her interview with The Review. “It is humbling. … When working on social media, people can see me, but I can’t see you. So even if you see numbers, it’s all kind of theoretical that there [are] all these people out there. To see a huge arena set up, … it brings to life how many people are going to be here. It is slightly terrifying, but also exhilarating.” 

UVU’s Center for Constitutional Studies hosted an event with McMahon as their keynote speaker as a part of their conference for civic education. Tickets for McMahon’s address sold out, with a capacity of 8,500 people. 

“In order to have an educated opinion, you have to have an education,” McMahon remarked when asked about the appeal of her content. “So, it was very difficult, I think, for a lot of people to find a place to go that seemed like it … had good intentions, had legitimate information. … They want a way to be able to get a question [or] answer, or make sense of something.” 

In The Review’s interview with McMahon, she addressed issues she saw in the way civics are being taught in America. When asked about the lack of student interest in civics, McMahon said, “It’s not so much that it is confusing, … it’s that we have made politics and civics so toxic, that there is nothing enjoyable about it.” 

McMahon would go on to describe how most people dislike being yelled at and how discourse has become so toxic that it had given people “traumatic responses” to politics and other government affairs. She related how people would say that “they couldn’t go through another presidential election” and related this to a mind-body connection. 

“I really do think this is something we’re going to see moving into the 2024 presidential election,” McMahon speculated. She later related this to the strong feelings people saw during the COVID-19 pandemic and how the politics of the time were intertwined in those subjects. 

The conversation would later lead to how the country’s politics have become divisive. Addressing similar concerns that Former Speaker Paul Ryan had in his visit to UVU, McMahon thought the issue was more than just a few congressmen. 

“This is a topic that as much as we want to pinpoint people in Congress, who are basically children running with scissors, like Paul Ryan was pointing out,” McMahon began. “As much as that is true, if we are only looking to eight people in Congress and pointing all the fingers at them, then we need to familiarize ourselves with a mirror, right? Because this is all our responsibility. … Nothing will change if we don’t change it.” 

At the conclusion of The Review’s interview, McMahon wished to express how important people are in creating change. She emphasized how important interactions between people are in stabilizing toxicity around civics and government. She also wished to emphasize that people should not be reposting things on social media that are not verified to be true. 

“Every person matters,” McMahon stated. Relating this idea to a story of her walking through the halls of Congress, she asked several congressmen how many phone calls it would take for them to say that they needed to pay attention to an issue. 

“I have never heard a number that is higher than 300, some people say 40 or 50,” McMahon recounted. “People don’t even realize how few phone calls it takes to make a difference. So again, because you have so much influence over your friends, getting your friends to do it, that is what makes a difference. … That is a very small number to move the needle.” 

To find more information about Sharon McMahon, visit her website. For more information on the Center for Constitutional Studies, visit their website