December 12, 2019

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Opinion

Young voters make it count

If you don't vote, don't complain

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Files</p><p>A tell-tale warning of an upcoming election: candidate signs are everywhere.</p></p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Files

A tell-tale warning of an upcoming election: candidate signs are everywhere.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/10/2018 (418 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

ATTENTION young people: Uncle Doug has just looked at his desktop calendar and it turns out there are only four more sleeps until civic election day.

Uncle Doug knows what you are thinking, young people. You are thinking: "Huh? We are having an election? Really?"

Well, Uncle Doug is mildly disappointed in you, young people, but he understands why you might not have noticed that we are in the middle of another municipal election campaign, despite all those signs in people’s yards.

Out of journalistic fairness, I have to admit this race has not been what we old geezers used to call a "barnburner," which apparently was a very exciting thing back in the days before we could convey real excitement via texting each other emojis sporting whatever look symbolizes excitement.

While we applaud all the candidates who have bravely thrown their hats into the ring in an effort to preserve democracy as we know it, we have to concede this year’s race has hardly been thrilling, especially among the mayoral hopefuls, who — and we hate to make sweeping generalizations — seem to be the sort of people who could not electrify a bathtub if they dropped a toaster oven in it.

But that is not the point, young people. The point is you need to exercise your democratic right — nay, obligation — to get out and vote for the candidate you like, or at least find least offensive.

The problem — and this happens every (bad word) election — is that too many young people don’t bother to vote because they are far too busy staring down at their cellphones, engrossed in the online game Fortnite or, as we previously mentioned, trying to find the appropriate emoji to represent youthful angst.

The problem for us older people, defined as people who were alive when the video game Pong was invented, is to find a way to motivate younger persons to walk out of the food court in the local shopping mall and into the voting booth.

Simply telling younger persons to do something has never been effective, as we learned back in the day from the abysmal failure of advertisements aimed at preventing kids from smoking cigarettes.

"Hey, kids, don’t smoke!" is what the TV and radio and newspaper and magazine ads used to chirp at me and my friends.

The end result, of course, was that we smoked like (bad word) chimneys.

Which leads me to wonder whether some reverse psychology might do the trick, and we could improve the voter turnout via ads that shrieked: "Greetings young people: please do NOT vote, because that is something only old geezers do."

I suppose it’s worth considering, but personally, I would rather persuade people about the importance of voting by using what I like to call the "Cheeseburger Analogy."

Imagine for a moment that you have just wandered into a restaurant, and when the waiter comes over and asks what you want, you look at him and mutter: "Oh, I don’t know, just bring me anything."

So, the waiter goes away and after a reasonable amount of time comes back and plops a big, juicy cheeseburger on the table in front of you.

Now, if it was me, I’d be thrilled, but let’s say you are one of those rare people who hate cheeseburgers. In that case, you would be pretty disappointed, right?

The thing is, because you didn’t tell the waiter what you wanted, you don’t have the right to complain about what he brought you.

Get it? I mean, you can see where I’m going with this, right?

If you don’t bother to vote because you can’t make up your mind, then you don’t have the right to complain when everyone else decides to elect what you believe to be the human equivalent of a cheeseburger.

If that doesn’t persuade you to take part in the democratic process, allow me to remind you about another cheeseburger that was impacted by the voice of the people.

Last year, the nice folks at Google were lambasted over the placement of assorted layers in their new cheeseburger emoji.

You will have a hard time believing this, but Google placed the slice of cheese under the patty in its burger instead of on top, which is where normal burger-loving humans would put it.

What happened was there was a huge outcry and Google quickly put the slice of cheese in the correct position, thereby making life worth living for people who spend most of their time online.

It was the same this month with Apple, which announced it would be adding 70 new emojis in an upcoming update to its mobile operating system. Among the new emoji was a bagel that outraged breakfast lovers, who branded it a "monstrosity" because it appeared to be a plain representation of their favourite food.

One critic whined it "looks like something you get from a cardboard box in the freezer section at Walmart," and hordes of online users started tweeting "#SadBagel."

Of course, Apple heard the voice of the people who refused to stand by while a crime of this magnitude was perpetrated on democracy.

The corporation transformed its unappetizing emoji into a plump, golden-brown bagel, complete with a delicious schmear of cream cheese.

What I’m saying, young people, is that this is how democracy works — you have to speak up to get what you want.

So, if you don’t want a cheeseburger with the cheese in the wrong spot, or a bagel without cream cheese, you had better get out to vote on Wednesday.

Are you with Uncle Doug, young people? Hello? Hello?

Aw c’mon, young people, I know you’re out there.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Doug Speirs

Doug Speirs
Columnist

Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.

Read full biography

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