Particularly during the final weeks leading up to the big day, I spent time reflecting on what it would have been like to vote before the age of social media? I’ve never experienced it.
Although SM was present during the last election; it’s of course nowhere near what it is today. Perhaps partly due to hesitancy of “sharing too much”, perhaps because the functionality of SM was fairly basic, perhaps because social integrated wasn’t developed into every website, perhaps because at that point, most people did not have a smart phone, and/or perhaps because the presidential candidates did not have Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Have I mentioned that I have an old soul?
Monitoring my Facebook feed during these weeks was a pretty epic ethnographic experience. So many slanderous posts. Petty arguments unfolded via comment threads. I’m not sure if I was more blown away by the insensitivity of the posts, the accusations driven purely by fallacies, or the blatantly incorrect (or at very best, severely twisted) “facts”. It was actually pretty incredible. It was incredible to watch the power people felt when they are able to hide behind a computer screen.
Thanks to this app, I’ve been able to avoid most of the insanity, and instead saw images such as these:
As for IRL political conversations – I avoided these as much as possible. Because I don’t care or because I’m apathetic? No, of course not.
In the political conversations I have found myself in, there was a trend: I asked a ton of questions in order to understand the other person’s perspective. Why do you feel that way? What specifically do you dislike about the other candidate. Can you site your source for that “fact”? How do you think _____ will affect ______. You know, that sort of thing. Most of the times, these questions couldn’t be answered. Another problem I found: 9 times out of 10, the questions about my beliefs and ideas weren’t reciprocated.
What kind of conversation is that?
Here’s how I classify a quality and productive conversation:
- Questions are asked by both people.
- Must be educated on the topics. If you’re throwing out numbers/”facts”, site your source. (No, your Twitter feed and watching the news doesn’t cut it.)
- Must be thoughtful and open-minded about why someone else might think differently. (No, this does not mean you need to agree)
- Must have the maturity to understand the other’s position in the context of their life, their experiences, their beliefs, and their priorities.
As for the debates – no, I did not watch these. I take that back – I did watch the SNL election skits and got a kick out of those. Why didn’t I watch the debates? Well, I make decisions based on research. And on history. And on facts. I don’t make decisions based on who has the best speech writer or who is a more charismatic orator. It really is as simple as that.
At the end of the day, I feel grateful to live in a country where we are able to vote. Where women are able to vote. Where we don’t have to worry about blatant voter fraud.
What do I wish for the future? Educated voters. I think back to my grandparents who immigrated to the U.S. Who had to study and study and study in order to take and pass a U.S. knowledge test to gain citizenship. What if we had the same requirement for voting? What if we required voters to be educated with facts and history before earning the privilege to vote?
I also have dreams of a strong 3rd party.
As for the grand finale, I’ll share two of the most “liked” political updates on my FB feed. I drew some opinions based on these…