I get it. We all want answers from the 2020 election, especially if they deliver good news for [insert your political affiliation here]. As a result, plenty of people are obsessing over every little scrap of information as it hits the internet—every glimmer of news that might point to an answer. And they’re sharing these “insights” over, and over, and over, as if somehow Facebooking or tweeting every bit of punditry is going to get us to the finish line any faster.
Here’s my suggestion: Stop sharing. Seriously. Stop it. There are two things you should be worried about right now, and they apply to any election from now until the end of time (otherwise known as the point at which America wises up and develops a secure way for us to vote digitally).
- Did you vote? You probably did this, unless you’re the kind of person that likes to tell their friends “I want to watch the world burn” in the style of a comic book villain. I’m rolling my eyes at you.
- Did you confirm your vote was processed? This is the biggie. There are plenty of mail-in votes that will not get counted due to all kinds of irregularities. You might still have a chance to fix the if it affects you. Check to make sure your ballot made it in. If it didn’t, do whatever you have to do in order for your vote to count. Every vote counts.
And that’s it! You’ll note I did not add “become your own broadcast newsroom by retweeting everything you can get your hands on” to the list, nor “harass random people on the internet who voted differently than you,” nor even “attempt to convince everyone your candidate won because you saw it in a TikTok.”
There’s nothing you can do to change the future right now. Even the people who are foolishly trying to “stop the count” are wasting their time—and they were no doubt prompted to storm the voting barricades by something stupid they read on the internet. For most normal people who aren’t lawyers employed by a political party or campaign, your job is done. You did your duty. Your vote got counted. That’s it. End of the line. Input no longer needed.
By continuing to spam social media with politics, you’re fueling anxiety in an already contentious time. And nothing will be solved by it. It’s the same kind of pit-in-stomach feeling you get when you see a recent ex pop up on your favorite social network, only now it’s every single one of your friends posting about seeing them out with someone new, 24-7. It isn’t a good feeling, and we could all help out each other—and ourselves—by not contributing to it as much as we are.
The world churns on no matter how many memes you post
Let me be blunt: Your retweet doesn’t matter. Your funny Facebook meme doesn’t matter. Some interesting thing you saw some other hyperpolitical person’s post doesn’t matter. Your colorful Instagram posts of hope and love don’t matter. Nothing you do, as an everyday person, is going to change the electoral process any more than what you’ve already accomplished by voting.
In fact, I would even argue that telling everyone to remain calm, loving, and hopeful all the time is itself obnoxious. The very act of telling your friends to not freak out reminds them of the very thing they’re trying to not freak out about. And maybe it’s just me, but I don’t need cute-animal distractions, or photos of your latest hike with “be peaceful” captioned all over them, or to see the movie still that you photoshopped Trump and Biden into in an attempt to be funny and/or trendy.
What we need is social normalcy. If you had an interesting day, talk about that. If you took a lovely photo of a bird outside, share it. Don’t do it because you’re helping to calm an anxious nation; you aren’t. Just share it, so those of us who want to forget the outside world for a moment can enjoy it. It doesn’t need to be related to politics. The world doesn’t need your opinion on politics. Your friends have plenty of places to go for breaking news if they want it, and none of their sources for it needs to be you.
I’m reminded of that time 48 hours ago—or was it a year ago?—when a mass of my friends started hyping up the Texas vote count for Democrats. Surely the blue wave was going to wash over the state, they argued in countless Facebook posts, tweets, and Instagram memes, because vote counts in typically democratic areas were trending higher than usual. That didn’t happen, but all that armchair quarterbacking got lots of spirits dialed way, way up, only to send them crashing back into bitter anxiety when the blue wave slammed into the wall of political reality.
This processes repeated itself is countless permutations, and continues to repeat itself as we all relentlessly opine, and share others’ opinions, and look for hints of hope, and hyper-fixate on what might have gone wrong, and… just enough, already. There will be lots of time for analysis over the coming weeks, months, and years. Today, consider doing your peers a favor and exhibiting some political restraint on social media, especially if you’re just re-sharing some random Washington insider’s prediction. It’s not what we need right now, and it’s just adding emotional chaos to a process that’s already fraught with tension.
As I’ve said, I think it’s healthiest when you can decide when, and how much, you want to participate in the ongoing political madness. Having politics shoved in your face everywhere you go prohibits you from being able to take the very real mental break you need in times like these. Save the sharing for the really, really good stuff so it can float to the surface above all the other meaningless social drivel. Everything else, just let it rest.