If undecided voters would just ask for help we could all sleep tonight

Sitting in the Minneapolis airport waiting to fly home today, I overheard a political conversation. Well, I did not so much overhear it as it was an experience I was subjected to: the participants are loudly extolling the virtues of their respective candidates from thirty feet away. It’s actually fairly terrifying in its rudeness. We’re all pretty aware that there’s a presidential election going on, even the half of the country that doesn’t vote. So I interpret any public display of political conversation as a downright act of impolite war. Even if I agreed with what the acolytes were saying I’d still find the display exceedingly rude. We’re all trapped in an airport. Flying is just about the worst possible way to travel, save that it let’s you run all the red lights. It’s expensive, stressful, cramped and may drop you out of the sky if the explosion doesn’t kill you first. Why add to the cauldron of depravity that is the modern airline experience by being rude?  

And what’s the point of such displays? I introduce this question by way of an airport exchange, but it’s the same dynamic flooding our existence on an hourly basis through our phones and casual conversations. Are we all so bored with weather talk that we have collectively agreed to spice up our lives with random fifth grade level political barbs? To what end? The chances of you changing anyone’s vote are pretty small. All of your “friends” think they’re at least as smart and hip as you, or they’re just looking to break up the monotony of their lives for a few minutes by starting an argument. If you’re the kind of masochist who actively seeks out political debate, I think I already keyed you in on what I think of you six words into this sentence. I got nothing against self-flagellation, but it’s something you should probably do at home regardless of the size of your whip.

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The truth is most political arguments are crusades, and what’s at stake are the ballots of undecided voters. I understand (and on a rare good day, am moved to actually appreciate) why those of us who are already set in our party ways think we should be killing ourselves to change those peoples’ minds. I disagree about who should be committing these acts of immolation. Undecided voters should absolutely be doing the heavy lifting here.

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My recommendation: the only people who should be posting about politics are the people who are undecided, and only in the form of a question, e.g. “Hey everybody, who should I vote for?” Then the people who want to win your vote can come to you and extol the many virtues of their respective candidates and issues. Anyone who disagrees can lob their party bombs in those designated spaces, a forum whose goal is clear: to educate you and you alone. Think about how clean and refreshing our feeds would be if the majority of the posts we saw about politics were calls for guidance and not an unending series of things you either already know or wouldn’t change your vote if you did. Seriously, think about how far away voting day is. Now think about how many posts and tweets you saw today about an election that’s now set in stone and you won’t have a say in for months. Surely I can’t be the only one who wants to be hit by a car and lie in a coma until voting day.

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A lot of us see what we write and post about poltics as activism, and some of it is. Where there is an audience there is the potential for responsibility. That said, most of us are just shilling, which I guess you can call activism, save that your misspelled meme has about a .01% chance of effecting any concrete change. You know what effects more change than that? Posting about how awesome your favorite movie is, then someone asking you who you’re voting for based on your awesome taste in everything, and then telling them that informtaion (if you see fit). You’d probably influence a full one percent of the people you know that way. If that’s too passive for you, then maybe give yourself a monthly pass to post “I’m voting for (fill in the blank)” and keep it moving. Don’t even respond to any of the comments. You’re basically treating 1000 thumbnail pictures you clicked on once like a survey, so pretend it’s one of those fill in the circle ones, not an essay question.

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Mind you, how I’m voting isn’t really any of your business. Sometimes I choose to share that information if the moment calls for it. That moment usually isn’t because the green light on my computer happens to be on. Hey, my mobile device still has juice. Why not go stumping?

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Occasionally I’ll write an essay or live blog a political event, but as the season wears on its become rare. My mind is made up and so are the minds of almost everyone I come into contact with. Anything I might post about the election at this point is just cannon fodder at best. So come on, undecideds, make it easy on the rest of us. Meet us halfway. Were really only fighting over you. If you’re seriously considering going to the polls, make it known that you’re undecided and let those of us who have platforms, information, and (the best part) awesome jokes give you our best shot from all sides. Most of us would rather go back to posting about the 99% of our lives that isn’t political rabble rousing. l got all kinds of cool stuff to talk about. And while I could be posting all things at all times, at this point my vote is not news, and you’re only going to pay attention to so much of what I post. I’d like for you to get as much as possible out of the one post the Orwellian algorithms allow you see that day.

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Help keep the internet clean, undecideds. All of this noise is really about you. Help us help you.

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