Shaking Off the Slacktivism

I have a friend whose uncle legitimately, 100% believes that most American politicians, especially Democrats, are lizard people.

Lizard people.

They live in the center of our hollow earth, and slither out to our surface world through a cave at the South Pole, which is the real reason we have so many "research stations" in that area, and all access is restricted. Not because without the proper equipment you will be dead from exposure within minutes. No.

Lizard people. Shapeshifting lizard people.

This man has never, not once, failed to vote in an election, since he came of voting age. In some small, theoretical way, this man has played a role in selecting the leader of the free world for several decades now. And he's voting to try and keep the lizard people out of power. He, and he alone, can enlighten the populace, and stop the lizard people agenda.

Lizard people. Shapeshifting lizard people. Liberal shapeshifting lizard people.

But this is not a discussion of mental illness. That will come in a later article. This is not an attempt to defame him, or anyone. Even the lizard people. This is not a quick, cheap bit for a laugh at the expense of a man with a tenuous grasp on reality at best, who probably needs some intensive psychotherapy not to be found in this blog.

This is a discussion of voter apathy. Specifically, that of my generation, and the generation after mine. To put a finer point on it, it's a dissertation on how, whenever you hold your indifference up like a cross against the "establishment," I really kind of want to punch you in the face.

I understand where it comes from. I am 34. I have witnessed only two presidents in my lifetime that I had a modicum of faith in, and they have been mixed bags at best, betraying some of their principles either because they never possessed them, or because of the very nature of the system they became a cog in. And I'm lucky. The abhorrent GOP obstructionism of the last 8 years means that, if this is your first ever presidential election, you may not have witnessed a functioning federal government since you were 10 years old. And what kind of kid cares about politics at 10, right? Hahaha...ha...

(ed. note - In the interest of full disclosure, the author cared very deeply about politics when he was 10.)

So I get it. I do. It's a bunch of old white men throwing temper tantrums, deploying ground forces to your uterus, and doing everything they can to hoard their gold like impressive CGI dragons in an otherwise bloated and over-extended fan-fiction homage to J.R.R. Tolkien. Why should you care? That's the refrain I hear. "It's not like it matters. Nothing ever changes."

See, right there! Almost punched my monitor.

The reason nothing ever changes is because you don't care. Voter apathy, to me, represents one of the most inexcusable disconnects in cause-and-effect relationships imaginable. Nobody voted because nothing changed, then nothing changed so nobody voted? You are the change! Yes, the game is rigged. Yes, it is regularly made to be as difficult as possible for you to make your voice heard. Yes, it is against the best interests of the people in power to let someone else suggest, via ballot box, that they no longer be in power. But these are all reasons to go out and vote. They seek to diminish your numbers because, in high enough concentrations, you become exponentially more inconvenient to ignore. But that bar is lofty, and the status quo resilient.

Democracy is hard. Just ask a Bernie Sanders supporter. But it's worth doing, and a lot of people sacrificed everything, up to and including their lives, to give you the opportunity to put down your cell phone for 10 minutes -- 4 hours if you're in Arizona -- and be part of the swell that attempts to right the ship. Congressmen who vote for their lobbyist buddies, against the interests of their own constituents, routinely win six, seven, eight terms in office. The internet erupts in furious anger. "How?! How could anyone be that stupid?! How could this have happened?!" It happened because they kept rewriting the aforementioned rules and changing the game until you obliged them with your cynicism and apathy. They shook off the people who could do something about it. You. The young people, who are messing up my lawn.

Older demographics consistently outperform younger ones in every election, on any level, and they tend to skew pretty heavily toward the GOP. Cue the internet generations, demanding change and progress and an end to social policies they view as archaic and hateful. Then, Enter the Slacktivism.

Slacktivism is all the rage on the internet. It bestows the prestige of enacting social change and justice, with none of the putting clothes on. You espouse your cause and throw fiery rhetoric with a side of shade at anyone that stands in your way, take a fierce selfie, and sometimes you get neat flare for your Facebook profile picture. But your anger cannot end inside the confirmation bubble of your friend list, because the people trying to keep you from earning a livable wage do not care how many likes your Fight for $15 meme got.

The internet has become a double-edged sword in this regard; no generation prior the two newest to the political arena has had these tools at their disposal. By all rights, they should be the most well-informed, politically savvy voting groups in human history. It is, I believe, one of the underlying reasons that the current political establishment attacks the internet so hard. That, and a belief by some small cadre of octogenarians that high-speed data transfers will erode the tubes that carry our interwebs and eventually cause catastrophic information spills.

At the same time, however, the information overload that it provides is an Aldous Huxley wet dream. We were not ultimately subjugated by the strict control of information. We were overrun by the fire-hose torrent of it. Why go vote, there are cat videos to watch! Circling back around to the Sanders campaign, this has been, from an outsider's perspective, one of the biggest challenges they have faced. The voter block right in their wheelhouse blows up the SandersForPresident subreddit all day, every day. Yet in key losses during this primary season, Bernie himself has stated that low voter turnout was their undoing.

If you want it to change, you're going to have to put pants on. Do your research, use the tools. Don't forget about Congressional elections, either! Our sitting House and Senate have lower approval ratings than some venereal diseases, yet, as stated above, unless you hold them accountable in the only way you can, they will continue to be the questionable mouth sore on our blind date with our new government next year.

Look, I don't really care who you're voting for. Well...I do, but it's not my place to tell you how to ruin your country. I mean, run your life. What matters is, you get out there, you make your voice heard, and you counter-balance my friend's uncle.

Lizard people 2016!

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