I was raised with some incredibly British values, namely the idea that there are some things that we just don’t talk about: sex, politics and money being the obvious ones. The sex thing I’ve slightly disregarded, since my job consists of me constantly providing TMI, the money thing isn’t a huge issue since I very rarely have any but the politics, I get. I was always told as a child that you shouldn’t ask a person who they were voting for. As such, I’ve never done so. In return, I’ve never been asked. (Apart from by the nosey guy with the red rosette outside my polling station today).
But it seems I may be an anomaly, alone in my British tendencies, in the blogging community at least. Because over the last few weeks everyone, and I do mean everyone, has been talking about the election. Smear stories are being shared left right and centre (see what I did there???), hashtags are popping up by the thousand and statuses, tweets and Instagram posts alike are coming from people determined to share their opinion, whether we want to hear it or not. Finally it seems, us young people are here and don’t we just need to shout about it.
This election has been different, even since Brexit I have noticed a change. Most of us didn’t really want to leave Europe. But since the young people didn’t vote, it happened. We’ll be damned we let that happen again. Labour have therefore been relying heavily on the young vote and it seems like they might just have it. The last day of registration in May this year saw 245, 487 young people register, meaning that 1.05 million 18-24 year olds have registered since Theresa May called the election on April 18th. Notoriously us young people haven’t voted, we’ve had total apathy, it’s gone above our heads. But this year we are passionate. This year we are using our voices. This year we are going to change the world. But good God aren’t we being horrible about it?
I am not going to tell you who I voted for today. I am not going to ask you what you chose. But don’t get used to that. I will probably be the only one. Influencers are using their voices to not only tell you who they voted for and to tell you what to do but to actually shame the living shit out of you for doing something differently to them. I’ve yet to see someone stand up and admit to voting Tory online but they must be doing it somewhere as Labour supporters have been kicking off. I saw one tweet this morning saying: ‘How disgusting to see influencers using their platforms to encourage people to vote Tory. Selfish c*nts.’ I didn’t point out the irony that since this girl’s Twitter name was #GetTheToriesOut she was being just as bad as the selfish Tory c*nts. It didn’t seem worth it. In truth, I was a bit scared.
And that’s a feeling that I’ve felt a lot on social media over the past few weeks. Scared. The language has been terrifying. The messages have been terrifying. The intimidation, the bullying, the shaming, it’s been terrifying. We women haven’t even had the vote for 100 years and look already at the things that we’re doing with it. Our foremother’s would be rolling in their graves watching us turn on each other like this over a privilege that they fought so hard for. The privilege of CHOICE.
Look, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that we are talking about politics. I love that we are passionate. I love that we are being activists, that we are doing something. I love that we are all different. But I think I might be the only one. I genuinely haven’t used Facebook in the last week. I haven’t wanted to see what people had to say. Politics makes them ugly. It makes me hate my friends. Not for their political persuasions, but for their desperation to be heard. I can’t stay away from Twitter, it’s my job. Without it I’d have nothing to do with my days, but God I wish I had, I wish I’d been on holiday. People I respected I now can’t stand. I’ve had to unfollow people who’s work I really liked. Because they were SO intent on shoving their opinions down 4000 people’s throats that they became someone truly unpleasant.
Ultimately when it comes to voting, we want to get it right. We vote, as advised, for the party that we genuinely believe will help us and our loved ones. For so many, that is Labour. God I understand that, it’s so wonderful to see such a societal burden being taken on by the young, it’s important, so important. We don’t want another Brexit, we don’t want another Trump. We want to know that we have done everything that we possibly can to get the outcome that we think will be best for our country.
But we have GOT to learn the etiquette here. Sure, I’m old fashioned for the ‘let’s not talk about politics stuff’, I’m part of the over-sharing generation, let’s not be bloody stupid. Tell who you want. But this shaming and bullying is disgusting. This is new territory, I get it. There are more young people voting than ever before, young people all sitting in their own little bubbles on the outskirts of the internet who need to get their points of view across. Young people who need to have their say. Young people who absolutely should.
Young people who need to learn that there is more to a person than their political persuasion. That their opinion is NOT the only one. And that social media, whilst it can be an incredibly powerful tool in elections, should always be fun and always be safe.
Either way, I hope you voted today.