In the 2016 United States Presidential election, 58% of eligible voters exercised their right to cast a ballot. In the 2015 Canadian Federal election, we had 68% of eligible voters show up…
I know what you’re thinking — “Greg’s pulling a freaking bait and switch!? He signs us up for his email list with free workouts and then goes full House of Commons on us!?”
This has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with how we actually vote and what our modern culture of change looks like, whether we agree with it or not.
When I was in high school — which wasn’t really that long ago — Instagram didn’t exist, Facebook was still cool, and none of us had smartphones (Sidenote: I had a Motorola Razr, if you know, you know). Your best option at the time was a Blackberry like the one your dad used for work, and you panicked every time you accidentally launched the internet app because it probably tripled the monthly bill.
The point is this — in the past decade, we went from 30-minutes per week on dial-up internet for a few emails and MSN messages to the smartphone becoming a literal extension of our physical being.
This change was about more than just easy and affordable access to the internet; smartphones gave society a voice with the potential to instantly reach billions of people, completely unfiltered, via any digital representation of our choosing, for free.
As the events of the world have unfolded over the last few months and weeks — words can mean nothing and everything at the same time. Most voices aren’t heard in the kingdom of connectivity, where only those who cry the loudest are crowned. Say the wrong thing, and your best case scenario is a few berating comments on Twitter before you get “cancelled.” That’s the best case…
It feels like the already small space for productive discourse is shrinking rapidly, and the only way that two people who disagree with one another can be in the same room is if they’re hiding behind a smartphone.
The social media mob and the rise of outrage culture leave no room for nuance. Most can’t cry loud enough to influence change, and the rest are too afraid to speak up. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t… right?
I believe the days of “voting” to have your voice heard via ballots in an election box are waning. Instead, we vote with our dollars, time, and attention. Consider this:
We vote against climate change when we spend our dollars on single-use plastic and fast fashion. We vote against equality when we spend our time focused on growth at all costs, placing shareholder value above the needs of our community. We vote against productive and respectful discourse by giving our attention to Buzzfeed headlines and clickbait news designed to facilitate outrage.
We get to vote and work towards real change every single day through the seemingly insignificant and unconscious decisions we make. Studies show that the average adult human makes 35,000 remotely conscious decisions every day. Those add up to a hell of a lot more than 1 ballot in a voter’s box on election day.
If you don’t like factory farming where chickens never see the sun and cows eat steroids instead of grass and grain, decide to stop giving fast food restaurants and discount supermarkets your dollars.
If watching CNN makes you feel angry, anxious, or even nihilist, decide to turn off the TV and spend your time doing something that brings you joy (Or, do that thing called exercise that you’ve been “too busy” for lately)…
If Donald Trump’s tweets make you feel like you need to post a political rant on Facebook, decide to unfollow him and turn your attention towards something productive and meaningful to your cause.
“Let us begin to uplift others by first uplifting ourselves by taking accountability for what we do, how we do it, and even who we do it with. Remove the abundance, disregard toxic people, and start to make a plan for a more productive future where you no longer feel like a liability.” — Mark Twight (Carry Your Own Weight).
You have more control than you think. Vote with your dollars, time, and attention.