Monday, January 22, 2018

This election, advance polls suggest young adults, aged 18-30, may be engaging with the political process like they haven’t in a very long time. Perhaps like never before. Why? Because they can.

Power, some say, is about cutting people off. Doctors and lawyers have a special language that takes years to learn, a way of ensuring that they remain a somewhat exclusive club. It is smart politics for political leaders to make promises to groups they think can help them, and ignore those who can’t. Those with power are the “in crowd.” Those without it are “outsiders.”

As an outsider, you stand alone looking in. And until recently, as an outsider, which at any given time is most of the population, you may have been standing shoulder to dozens, hundreds, thousands or even millions of others, just as much on the outside as you, and not really known they were there.

But social media changed all that.

Traditionally, those 30 and under have been “hard to mobilize.” You might call them an “inconvenient youth.” And like young people, women have traditionally felt marginalized in the political process and are less inclined than men to vote.

Think of all of those marginalized people standing around a glass building brightly lit on the inside and filled with the ruling class.  While it’s bright on the inside, it’s dark outside. So dark that everyone on the outside thinks they are alone. Meanwhile, those on the inside can’t see out – the bright lights have turned the windows into mirrors, so they don’t see anyone except themselves.

Social media is like a bright light going on outside the building. Suddenly, those inside are confronted by the sight of people they really didn’t know were there, just as those on the outside realize they are not alone, and they never really were. Nothing has changed but the lighting. And yet everything is different, including the balance of power.

That’s the role social media is playing in this election. Somebody turned on the outside lights.

If you want to win the people, you have to go where they are, not where they used to be or where you wish they were.

People are social. Democracy is social. And now voting is social.

Please visit Vote Social to learn how you can turn your vote into a truly social event.

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