The 2018 midterm election is over. And as in all previous voting cycles, Democracy was once again put into action. The people came forth and cast their voices to elect the leaders they wanted. There are cries of rejoicing for some, wails of anguish for others. But through it all, voters across this land made a statement in a clear and united voice. And that statement was:
“Hey world! Look at my fucking ‘I Voted’ selfie!”
Through the entire election process leading up to November 6th, social media feeds and click bait sites were flooded with images of normal people and celebrities proud to share that they took part in their civic duty and voted. News sites asked for pics of humble folk sharing their images with the “I Voted” sticker, and that was cool. But as the time went on, the images became more . . . unique. More . . . artistic.
I don’t know if it was peer pressure, of FOMO, but post after post, pic after pic, an image-based arms race was conducted. An “I Voted” escalation. Who could be cuter in their selfie? More ingenious? Who could be more quirky? Which filter should be used to express self-satisfaction?
It seemed that the images went from a simple reminder to others to take part in their responsibility and instead became a statement unto itself. A statement which seemed like *gasp* that the picture that was shared was almost more important than the actual vote cast.
Sure, this sounds like a complaint. And in truth, it is and it isn’t. Voting is, as said before, a civic duty. A responsibility. But one that isn’t enforced. And bluntly, it sucks that more people don’t take it seriously. It’s through grassroots movements, peer discussion, and social pressure that we can effect the change we want while also encouraging others to cast their vote.
That being said, with only an estimated 48.1% of eligible voters voting this 2018, perhaps people spent more time selecting the right photo to post than actually encouraging others? (Don’t look at me like that. You know damn well some of you--and definitely several celebrities--took a ton of pics on your phone and scrolled through them to choose the right one. And reposting an article from your favored echo chamber on FB, Twitter, or Instagram doesn’t count as encouragement.)
It’s no secret that voting in America is a contentious issue. We are a polarized people with polarizing “leaders,” which is evident in our recent elections. Voter turnout dipped from 62.3 percent of eligible citizens voting in 2008 to an estimated 57.5 in 2012. Only 36.4 percent of eligible voters turned out in 2014. 138 million Americans voted in the 2016 presidential election, and said voters only made up 58.7% of our voting-eligible population (estimated 235.2M eligible voters).
So, when you look at it that way, the approx 62.9M Americans that voted for Trump represented only approximately 27% of the country. So a little over one quarter of the eligible voters selected our president. (Or if you take in the total population of 2016, 323M Americans, 19.4% of the people chose the president.)
So yes, I’m being a bit of a curmudgeon about people’s “I Voted!” pics. Mostly because I don’t think they do anything other than self-aggrandize while subtly casting shame on others. And the one thing in this socio-political landscape in which we live which I find to be true is that shaming, blaming, and finger pointing does nothing but draw the battle lines deeper and keeps things like tolerance, understanding, and unity from happening.
But hey, what the fuck do I know? I’m just a dumb SFF writer. And this is just my reactionary opinion to a pretty non-issue issue. So forgive my meandering grouchiness.
But I do know there are images like this, which make me nod in approval and have hope.
And pics like this, which make me want to quit voting all together.