Not at all uplifting thoughts/criticisms/opinions with commentary on campaign txt msgs
|So I was doing what a writer does best... thinking about the world around me and how I personally interact with it. Writers have a long history of writing satire and commentary about the world around them. We as writers are influencing people we don't even know. But not only that, we are influencing people and we aren't even sure if we are doing so in the manner we intended. I actually think about this a lot. Personally, I find it intimidating and at times, I am completely happy with my anonymity and not having anything published. Thinking about all those minds out there that I can shape, influence, sway, and "enlighten," annoy, spur anger, raise pitchforks at me, is overwhelming.
Even sharing this little bit of raw opinion is intimidating. So why am I doing it? I think its because I am still a writer who has something to say, while enjoying my anonymity for someone to hate me without hating my face. Call me a coward if you will; I call it fear masquerading as a preference.
So, here is what I have learned: people only have their personal history and experiences to use when interpreting what another writes or says. Every satiric comment, every thought, emotion, and carefully chosen words are interpreted by others using bias to reason and relate to what we wrote. We can open new doors and introduce them to new ideas and perspectives, but in my own personal opinion, the only way to truly grasp the understanding of another's work is to disagree, debate, and reconsider that you may have incorrectly assumed the writer's perspective and beliefs.
I remember the moment when I realized how misunderstood my writing can be. And how intimidated I was by the amount of influence I had on another's emotions. I was at a fine arts camp and performed my latest poetic piece of teenage angst. Needless to say, it was a huge hit. Many people approached me, adults included, saying how much they could relate and how mature the poem was. If I can dig out that diary (how many diaries ago was it? 23? 30?) I will come back and post it here.
But people continued to approach me and they shared how much they appreciated my poem. This gave me more insight into what message I was actually delivering as I realized barely anyone actually "got" what I was saying. But oh boy, they definitely all thought they did. They all thought they knew what I meant-what I was writing about. This meant that 20+ people who "knew" exactly what my poem meant all disagreed on the meaning, emotion, and intent behind it.
The more I shared my writing and allowed myself to be vulnerable to criticisms, edits, and praise lead me to consider if my writing was incredibly esoteric, if I was just simply a horrible writer, or if interpretation was just a matter of opinion and experience and I needed to work on my clarity. I actually think its a mixture of many factors and faults, though sometimes I am intentionally ambiguous.
Though I do consistently think about this subject, I stumbled into my current contemplations about the word "we" via the relentless campaign text messages those of us in the US have been getting leading up to the moment the polls closed. Some may not see the connection, but to me and my perseverating thoughts about the word "we," the association is easy to make.
These text messages appeared to have the same goal- they must include the word "we" to inspire feelings of unity and empowerment while also making sure you let the person receiving the message know there is a real person sending them. For anyone out there asking why this would be a "bad thing," I would say consider the manipulative, influential, and psychological impact intended by the individual who initiated campaign text messaging. They chose this formula and the use of the word, "we" in combination of asking for another to be accountable to a stranger who was asking to reveal a voting preference. These strangers were not forcing me, but they were reaching out to ask me to reveal how I was going to vote. The reason we have private voting is to prevent persuasion and coercion. These campaigning text messages were asking me to willingly give them info about personal choice. To what end? So they could have an idea of their next steps? So they could have some basis to ask for a recount of ballots when their expected numbers didn't align? I could have lied... instead I just didn't answer, deleted and blocked the numbers.
For anyone who is curious, yes I did "opt out" of those text messages. Perhaps anyone out there who was sending them can explain to me why I continued to get the campaign messages from other individuals even though I said I opted out? Was it because I was just opting out of that one person sending me messages instead of taking me off the entire campaign list? If that is the loophole, why were these campaigners so comfortable with ignoring my preference by putting me on someone else's text messaging list?
I got text messages from democrats and republicans (and maybe even a libertarian thrown in). I also got text messages about the propositions without any identified associated political party. If you are one of those individuals campaigning through text messages, here is how my background and experiences had me interpret your actions, even if you didn't intend them to be so.
The text messages I received consistently used the word "we" and asked if the campaigner can count on my vote. Using my personal experiences and history, I interpreted these messages as psychologically peer pressuring, coercive, and trying to create accountability towards someone I didn't know.
In one form or another, they all said, "We can beat (insert unfavored candidate)! Can I/we count on your vote?" No, no you cannot. Because my vote can change up until the very last minute. Also, why are you asking me in the first place?
Why do those on the other end of those text messages feel like they are supporting the right path by sending those messages? Perhaps you like getting them; perhaps you see it differently than I do. But constant use of "we" and requesting the campaigner can count on my vote is invasive. I don't respond. I delete and block. But then someone else texts me. Why do these individuals feel justified in continuing to send text messages? Because repetition get's results? If that were the case, would this person truly prefer I agree without questioning, researching, and considering opposing options because they "know" its the right thing to do? I actually agreed with some of those text messages, but I am not going to give up my right to voter anonymity to tell you the truth. I could have lied, but then that would just feed the idea that the supporting numbers are larger than what they are, which in my head would lead to even more assumptions about voter outcomes.
So, I am done ranting for now. Please, feel free to share a sympathetic or opposing view. Just know I claim the right to change my mind and become one of those campaigning text messengers should I ever feel so inclined to so. After all, even though I griped and complained, I can still reconsider and decide otherwise.