How did we get to this electoral outcome? We’ve sensationalized questionable rhetoric by sharing “funny” memes– creating a reverse grassroots social media campaign. At times, the campaign spotlight shifted from issues at hand emphasizing outfit choices or hairstyles rather than highlighting policy or proposed agendas. We’ve shamed voters on both sides of the campaign trail (particularly in the digital realm), publicly condemning those who expressed counter viewpoints– vilifying our right to freedom of speech, our first amendment.
It is our right to vote but our responsibility to be informed. Part of our civic duty, as a free nation, is to ask questions, to educate ourselves on the issues from the lens of both parties. It is imperative to disseminate information, to converse about the issues, and to empower those who fear to speak their mind and to do so objectively so we are all emboldened to fight for what we believe (because it is our constitutional right to vote for what we believe is right, however, we define it). Before you condemn one party, one person or one sect of our community, I challenge you to ask yourself what you did to inform yourself and our community before you cast your ballot. Did you listen diligently to the opposition? Did you educate those who asked questions? Did you challenge yourself to extend your knowledge of the issues?
Our Commander-in-Chief not only implements decisions that impact his/her own Executive branch but influences decisions for the House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court (with a vacant seat our President-Elect will appoint this term). Voting is not merely an act of expressing your opinion on one candidate or one party, your vote shapes the policies our government implements both domestically and internationally.
Trump’s ascent to power extends beyond just our Presidential office. It is a reminder of the power of your voice. Whether you are extending expression through your social circle or through social platforms– be mindful of both the personal and digital imprint you create because it is POWERFUL. Any view, photo or article you express in a public forum can and will be digested publicly. What I garner from this election is a newfound responsibility to “fight for what is right because it is worth it.” But, in addition, it is a harsh reminder of my own accountability.
Trump’s nomination would not have been feasible without the advent of our inter-connected digital community and the expression of our opinions. I think we should all take some time to reflect on what we share, why we share and how we can leverage our unique but well-articulated insights and public forum to not only share photos of our moments etc. but to empower our community.
In regards to social media, our digital imprint is an extension of our identity, even if a photo or text is deleted or disappears (looking at you Snapchat), you are accountable for every action or message you send to your community (nothing is EVER private or “deleted”)– it is a representation and reflection of who you are because it is who you project to your community. We have the ability to ratify, to embolden and to empower others in a way that is now instantaneous. It is a beautiful thing but be mindful of the responsibility it entails as well.
I hope we all garner new ways to leverage social media and our freedom of expression and think about the long-term ramifications of our actions before clicking send.