Handing out inane, information-void “VOTE FOR ME” pamphlets, or shouting at people in the street is definitely not the way to approach elections.
If I had to describe my experiences during the student elections process in one neat little word, it would definitely be ‘traumatic’. Just this afternoon, I ran into a girl in the library who had three-dozen white strips of paper with ‘VOTE FOR [candidate’s name]’ written on them, stapled to her coat. Then on my way out, I was attacked by a bug-eyed zealot who shouted at me, “Vote for [someone] and if you haven’t, you go do that NOW”. The PTSD therapy helps me forget. I mean seriously, did you think you could gain a vote for your friend by using the imperative on a stranger while splattered in theatrical make-up? I say nay. But you did manage to scare the living daylights out of that poor stranger, and probably other people as well.
So yeah, these are only couple examples of oddities from the electoral campaigns this year, but I must say that the general idea of being unable to take three steps without campaigners thrusting ‘VOTE FOR’ flyers at you, or getting told to vote for so-and-so is rather unsettling. Can’t a student retain her privilege to get to the library (and snag the last post-grad desk before someone else does) in peace?
Thanks to the wonders of our technological age, the irritation has made the jump from the street into your pocket. Last weekend I made an escape from the Bubble, with the intent of having a taste of the so-called ‘real world’ outside of our tiny student enclave. However, my excursion proved to be fruitless, as whether I was vintage shopping in Glasgow, bar hopping in Edinburgh, or happily hiking along the stunning Fife coastal path, was constantly interrupted from my outside-St Andrews-activities via the sound of my mobile going off literally EVERY 15 minutes.
The sad thing is that I’m not being even slightly hyperbolic. Thanks to smartphones and the Facebook app, I was bombarded with election-related messages, event invites, and even notifications of candidates posting some random blurb on their events page or updating their events’ main photos. And as I am completely technologically inept – in spite of my Asian origins – I was not able to change the notification setting on my phone and had to endure these electronic shenanigans. In fact, I was only able to get away from the election madness when strolling on the desolate Cambo Sands on the Fife Coastal Path where I did not have any mobile signal. The urge to send my phone spiraling into the crystal-clear water was powerful.
I am absolutely not trying to criticise anyone’s campaign here. The candidates and their fellow campaigners are probably lovely people, running on great platforms that everyone should care about. However, handing out inane, information-void “VOTE FOR ME” pamphlets, or shouting at people in the street is definitely not the way to approach the task. Countless trees will be felled, and countless voices ruined. Perhaps a leaflet containing comprehensive information on your platform or some persuasive points would be more worthwhile. But then again, I’m neither an expert nor an authority on the matter so please don’t quote me on that. However, people inevitably end up voting for candidates they are friends or acquaintances with or recognise the names of, so maybe the best way to win a coveted position would be to expand your social circles and put yourselves out there not only during the election season, but during your entire stay in St Andrews.
And one last thing: people will NOT vote for you if you’re annoyingly aggressive and give people more flyers to throw out, or Facebook events to decline, so scrap the imperative tone and the unnecessary print outs. Let’s save some trees and lower Strepsil’s profit margins.