In 1997 as the world was gearing up to see if ‘Things could only get better’, I was in Sixth Form getting involved in the mock election. It was an exciting way to get us more involved in politics given that we were too young to cast our votes and it would be several years before we could feel like we had some ‘proper’ involvement in a general election. I’ve continued to cast my vote since that first faux election but I’ve never quite felt the excitement that I felt back then. Until now.
One of the things I’ve noticed most of all recently is that people seem to be more willing to talk about the election and to be open about the party they’re considering. Perhaps it’s the circles I move in (or the fact that at times I can be pretty anti-social) but until now I’ve had very little idea how my friends and even my family voted. Suddenly, Facebook groups show you which of your friends are signed up to the same groups and I find out that people I’ve known even since that first Sixth Form mock election have the same political allegiance as me – and I never knew!
Of course, the Twitter explosion adds to it. Thousands of Tweets appear throughout the day, not all of which are flattering (my own included at times!) but which ensure that the Election (or #ge2010 as many are tagging it) stay firmly in the minds of Twitter users. Today’s #bigotgate was a prime example of how quickly information cascades: within minutes Twitter was awash with comments and everyone (again, myself included) seemed to have a thought about it.
One thing’s for sure, I’ve never felt so excited about politics and following a period of great personal political disillusionment, that’s a wonderful feeling. It’s never been so easy to engage with others, whether they support or oppose your views and everyone seems to be becoming a dab hand at expressing their views in 140 characters! I might not always agree with our political system but April 2010 is one month in particular that’s made me proud to live in a democracy and be able to share my views freely with others.