The first time that me and Mrs O had votes together is something I shall never forget. We emerged from the local primary school in post voital bliss.
“Which way did you vote?” whispered Mrs O – though I think then a Miss W.
Today I can’t remember to be honest which way I had voted on that night, but I did tell her.
“And you?” I continued, keen to share our deepest beliefs.
“I voted the way my conscience told me.” Replied the suddenly secretive Mrs Mata Hari.
That secrecy has continued to this day – though now I also use the “way my conscience told me” reply. It’s became our voting tag line.
This election sees no change – I have no clue how Mrs O votes and vice-versa. But I do know that we vote differently.
A couple of years back I got so overwhelmed by the apparent choice on offer when I entered the curtained booth that I vowed to go postal. That’s postal as in voting mechanism, not postal as in violently demonstrating at the next G8/9/10 or whatever the number is when you are reading this. And Mrs O continues to pop along to the local primary – and to come back tight lipped and secretive.
But for me, even in the relatively simple UK elections, as opposed to the overly complicated Scottish Parliamentary + Local Council + Britain’s Got Talent + Eurovision vote off, I do the postal thing. And that’s how I vote. I vote in secret, by post, until someone opens it up reads my name and counts my vote. And in some sorry cases then actually Tweets it – shame on Labour’s Kerry McCarthy for Tweeting the postal results by the way – (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/apr/29/labour-candidate-apologises-twitter-vote).
I paid as much attention as I could to all three Leaders Debates – they did seem to spark a bit of interest in the whole #GE2010 thing – certainly when compared to the last election. Though I was distracted a bit by the various acerbic comments streaming by on Twitter. It’s much more interesting to see what other folk are thinking rather than to listen properly to what our leaders are saying. And also fascinating to see people nail their colours to the mast (or to their Twitter profile image at least). In the politically secretive O household we’d never do that.
For the best part though the Twitter politweets haven’t been conversations – pity. Social media interaction in this election has been in my opinion one way – the people shouting upwards with little coming back from the politicians. Unless of course muttered under their breath into a radio mike while speeding away in a chauffeur driven car. GB’s mistake was that he got caught – I’m sure he’s not the only one that’s cursed after a troublesome debate in a street.
But maybe it’s not just the politicians that are shying away from debate and comment, maybe even the web is starting to resist that conversation. It may not seem like a big shift but recently Facebook dropped “Fan” and changed it to “Like”. So now you can only “Like” on Facebook – you can’t “Fan” and you certainly can’t say “Hate”. And then there is YouTube – no more Star ratings – your either Thumbs it up or Thumbs it down. The whole internet thing is slowly turning into a thumb icon – “Like”.
Even the previously web free Mrs O regularly looks up from her wi-fi enabled laptop and announces “LLLLLLike” while flicking her thumb up at me. That’s normally followed by a list of who has just “LLLLLLiked” something that she has previously “LLLLLLiked”.
Oh yes – back to voting… last weekend my postal voting papers arrived – they lay on the dining room table. Not a long list of candidates, and to be honest not an inspiring list. The brand values that each party enshrine always seem so far away from reality when you actually have to mark a bit of paper with a cross. They lay for a while as I mulled over which way to vote… and then it came to me.
I carefully got out my finest tipped gel pen and ever so carefully, against four of the parties that all had the most valid things to say, I carefully and with great skill drew a hand with its thumb proudly sticking up.
Four thumbs in total – “LLLLLike” you, “LLLLLike” you, “LLLLLike” you, “LLLLLike” you. Not “Fan” of course just “LLLLLike”.
And then finally at the bottom of the paper I drew a large “SHARE” button. And the word “click” in a speech bubble next to it.
Job done. In fact two jobs done – I’ve made politics interactive just like Facebook and I’ve broken down years of secrecy between me and Mrs O because I have shared my voting preferences on all of my favourite social web sites.
So that’s how I’ve voted. I’ve voted by post and I’ve elected to “Like” rather than “Fan”. With a hung parliament an each way bet at present, it seems as a nation we are about to do the same – the country is about to “Like” rather than “Fan” or even “Hate”.