How political should you be online?
Your right to vote is important – but should you share it on your Instagram?
One Instagram Live, five Snapchats and 30 pictures later – it's official. We all know that TODAY IS ELECTION DAY.
From cheesy shots outside the polling stations to the must-have 'I voted' filter, there is no escaping poll day fever. It's only noon and you already know how you neighbour, your ex and your boss have #voted. But your favourite blogger? Would it sway you to know how they cast their vote? Or would them talking about leaders lead you to click unfollow? Perhaps, you find their political musings #offbrand – hey blogger! We want more tagged jeans not Jeremy memes!
While scrolling through Insta yesterday, I noticed that a young writer I follow had posted the exact image I shared on the Two Birds account. The difference between hers and mine? She'd added an emotive but well informed caption – and the trolls came crawling. "Can't believe you just used your page to get political," said one, while another raged: "I'm all for opinions, I'm the most opinionated guy out there, but political opinions on a page on which your trying to build a business platform or brand????????? If I see it that way, many others will too."
Now this girl is fairly new to the media industry, and like many of us, she's chosen to use Instagram as a platform to promote her work and her passions. It seemed totally understandable that this would be the place for her to discuss her political opinions. If she can't, as one of her friends asked, post opinions on her page, "where the f*** can you?"
But as the number of trolls trebled, I understood why she soon deleted the post.
For some, trolls are not the only concern. Influencers who rely on their following to secure them lucrative deals – and losing followers can translate to losing money in the bank.
One blogger friend has mentioned to me in the past that whenever she shares her political views on Insta, she'll lose a handful of followers. Her response 'bye Felicia!' Authenticity is a big part of her brand and one of the reasons I have so much respect for her as a blogger and a friend. She doesn't lose sleep when the follower count drops. Odds are, she'll wake up with ten times more who appreciate her honesty and sass.
But for younger, more naive bloggers seeking to build a brand, it's not so clear cut. Although oversharing can be part of their job, it can also come at a cost. You only have to look to celebrities like Lena Dunham and Angelina Jolie – who have been widely criticised in the press for sharing their political ventures – to understand why some brands chose to keep mum.
But do you know what? F*** that! Fear of losing followers, losing money, losing popularity shouldn't be enough to stop people from using their personal accounts as platforms. Why should your little space on the internet be any different from the space you occupy in your classroom, or at the water cooler? If you wouldn't shy away from talking politics over a pint, why not share them over social media. If you choose to live your life publicly, any platform is the right platform. This is just another tool to have your voice heard.
As another friends said: "I share where I buy my shoes, what hotels I stay at. It would be wholly inauthentic – and seedy – to silence my political views simply because I'm not making money from them."
Who knows – maybe time the next election rolls around we'll be seeing #spon #ad alongside political postings. And how would you feel about that? I say, let's put it to a vote.