Maria Shriver wants to break the Internet, too, but not the way Kim Kardashian did.
I was walking out of a restaurant in Los Angeles the other day when a smart, successful man I know said “Hi.” We caught each other up on life for a minute, and then as I was about to leave he asked me, “Hey, when is the election?”—he wanted to vote.
I stopped, laughed and said, “It was last week.”
He seemed shocked. His companion, a young woman in her twenties, also seemed surprised that she had “missed” the election.
I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the millions of people who missed the election but didn’t miss out on sharing, debating and discussing the Kim Kardashian #BreakTheInternet photos or the millions who didn’t miss the controversy of Taylor Swift’s Spotify “breakup.”
The man and his companion complained to me that no one had told them about the election. They went on to rail about the state of traffic, political leaders who “do nothing” and the divisiveness in Washington.
They are the majority: People who can vote but don’t.
Some estimate that the election on November 4 had the lowest level of participation since World War II. It was one of the lowest voter turnouts in history.
People complain about the state of affairs but are too busy checking out the stream of stuff flowing out of their phones to participate in trying to change it. Too busy to look up and engage.
I’m worried about us. Us as individuals, us as a culture, and the big U.S.—as in The United States.
I’m worried that we are so immersed in what is “breaking the Internet” that we can’t see what is breaking us. There seems to be a lack of humanity, lack of connection, lack of concern, lack of interest.
The truth is, people know when the Thanksgiving sales start. When the new Xbox is coming out. When the Super Bowl airs. They know about the royal baby bump. They know what they want to know…and seemingly not much else.
I don’t know whose fault that is. The media? Those of us who are parents? The political parties? Or the nature of political advertising?
What I know is that Election Day is the first Tuesday of November. Kind of like Thanksgiving is the last Thursday in November.
What I know is that if I don’t vote, I don’t get to complain. What I know is that if the millions who are focused on Kim’s latest move actually made the move to vote, we would have a different electorate country and a more unified us … and U.S.
Which got me thinking: Could we break the record for voting if it was all online? What if it was simple and accessible and took place where you already spend your time.
Could we break voting apathy if everyone running was an independent, forcing everyone to look beyond labels that divide and actually read what the person was advocating? Could we break through if companies like Apple, Google and Facebook sent out alerts all day long reminding people to vote? I know there were steps towards that this year. If you visited the homepages of those site on Nov. 4, you saw voting information and imagery. But, yet, people weren’t inspired to participate.
Imagine if all the innovative minds came together and figured out how to let every American know that it was Election Day. Imagine if next year on Election Day Kim Kardashian did a photo shoot reminding people to vote. I don’t care where she puts the sign. I just care that people read it and go “Oh, I should vote today,” and then actually do it.
Now THAT would be a break through. Not just for the Internet, but for all of us in the U.S. #BreakTheInternet & #PassItForward