What Sign of the Apocalypse is it that we require our button-apps and time-waster devices to remind us that there’s an election coming up? Why isn’t this something I can turn off?
It’s everywhere, Facebook, Instagram, Discord, Twitter. The oligarchy is as One reminding me that I need to Register to Vote.
Never mind the fact that I’ve been registered to vote since the Internet consisted of whatever you could get Prodigy to suck through your phone line. Never mind the fact that I registered myself like a big boy, using paper and writing implements. Never mind the fact that I’ve never missed an election. This is apparently information that the Lords of the Universe don’t have access to. Which I suppose is something to be grateful for, because the perfect seamless incorporation into the Matrix has not yet occurred. But still, why can’t they just leave me to it? Why is it Social Media’s responsibility to Get Out the Vote?
There is an illusion, deeply felt, that Corporations are Entities that can Do Good. That they have Moral Responsibilities. I’m less interested in arguing about whether this is true (the legal fiction of corporate personhood aside, a company is just a group of people working together to make money. People have moral lives and responsibilities, corporations do not), than in pondering what this means about our culture. The dull exhortation to Do The Thing, conditioning our hindbrain that the Thing is Important, preventing us from ordering the Thing to our own life. Instead, we slap the button like so many descalped rats just to stop the irritation.
But surely. Elections are Important. How can you dispute this?
They seem to be. There’s a whole lot of noise surrounding them. There’s a sense of Sublime Victory or Traumatizing Defeat for one set or another. And yet, somehow, the winners never seem to get what they vote fore, nor the losers, what they vote against. Somehow neither side ever delivers that Square Deal, that Great Society, that New American Revolution supposedly on offer. Somehow no electoral victory ever translates into that heavenly Mandate to actually give the American people something that they ask for. All that seems to happen is one side or another gets to sign a bunch of orders, spend a bunch of money (which is promptly created for that purpose), make incremental changes to this or that pre-existing regulatory thicket, and the beat goes on. And if you spend enough time at the trough, you retire a millionaire.
You know, now that I think on it, maybe social media is just the right place for this circus. Sure, someone who only bothered registering to vote because the blinky screen told them to is probably the last person you’d want making decisions as to our leaders. But if our leaders don’t actually make decisions, then no one can do much harm. Democracy with Gutter Bumpers – What Could Go Wrong?