December 16, 2010

#16tovote on the 16th – Myths and Facts

Starting this past February, I’ve been running a little Twitter campaign called #16tovote on the 16th, where we tweet about lowering the voting age throughout the 16th of the month. Today is the eleventh run of the event, which has grown a little since it began, though its success varies month to month, hardly a linear progression.

Anyway, the idea is that there are a lot of tweets on this specific day in support of lowering the voting age, and all tweets must use the hashtag #16tovote. This way, I can watch the search results for the hashtag to see who and what has contributed to the event. Fairly simple. Yet even so, I often find myself having to clarify the same things constantly, to bust some myths that don’t want to be busted. Such as…

Myth: The #16tovote hashtag is for use only on the 16th.

Fact: The #16tovote hashtag is for use whenever, for any tweet about lowering the voting age. The event #16tovote on the 16th of course is special in that it specifically uses the hashtag because of the emphasis on voting age tweeting. Sort of how even though Thanksgiving is about eating turkey, we still eat turkey throughout the rest of the year.

Myth: On #16tovote on the 16th, we’re trying to get #16tovote into the Trending Topics.

Fact: Uhhh, no. Trending topics are not what hashtags are for. First of all, for something to trend, there needs to be like millions of people tweeting about it within a very short span of time. The highest number of participants a 24-hour run of #16tovote on the 16th has had is… 52. In its second run in March. So not only is Trending Topics not at all the goal of this event, it’s not even remotely feasible. The point of the hashtag is to be a, well, tag, to identify a tweet about lowering the voting age with others about that, so they all appear in the search feed.

Myth: If you don’t want to tweet, just get an account anyway and just tweet on the 16th.

Fact: Well, actually, there’s nothing particularly wrong with having an account for use only on the 16th, because if you’re using it to create original #16tovote tweets (as opposed to just retweeting), then that’s more content. Always welcome. Thing is, it tends to lack the other important aspect of #16tovote on the 16th, which is that participation, in tweeting and retweeting your own #16tovote tweets, shows these to your followers, thus spreading the word to them and encouraging them to participate as well. When you ignore your account the rest of the month, chances are you don’t have much in the way of followers, so your retweets don’t really go far. Don’t get me wrong. You’re still participating. But it’s a lot more effective if you’re doing so as an active Twitter user in general, not just looking like you’re an account created only for this one specific monthly hashtag campaign. So, by all means, if you want a Twitter account to participate in the event, do it, but try to also use it on other days, follow some other stuff too based on other interests you have.

Myth: #16tovote on the 16th is only for people who just want to lower the voting age rather than abolish it.

Fact: This one annoys me the most. The hashtag says that you should be able to vote at 16, but it does NOT mean that the voting age should not be even lower than that. Earlier today, I even answered this with this tweet: “When we say #16tovote, we do NOT mean “but not anyone younger!” We mean “let’s at least get this far then go from there”.” So surely that quelled everyone’s concerns… no, it didn’t, we still got shit about it. *facepalm* I mean, we’re not doing this to be dicks, nor is it out of fear (despite popular assumption). It’s because if the voting age is going to drop from where it is at all, the only realistic way it’ll happen is a little at a time. Yes, this will take a while. I mean, very true, many #16tovote tweets use arguments that question the whole idea of a voting age, and I realize the silliness of specifying an age with an argument that decries there being an age, but whatever. We’re all still supposed to be on the same side here, as in people who believe 18 is too high. Solidarity!

Eh, I don’t mean to complain, though. I do appreciate the participation, really! I’m amazed that the event has reached its eleventh run, that even the couple months that were relatively low in participation still happened. Each month, there are new people noticing the campaign and joining in, tweeting and retweeting, thinking about the issue, asking the about the issue, spreading the word to their followers. Gradually, #16tovote on the 16th is doing what it was meant to do, to bring together somewhat likeminded youth rights supporters to speak up about this little issue that so few have ever given a real thought about, an issue far more vital than many realize.

And, on a semi-related note, today is also the anniversary of us winning the $25,000 in that Chase contest!

1 Comment

  1. […] awareness campaigns and whatnot don’t alone cause national revolutions nor are integral. #16tovote on the 16th is not intended in and of itself to lower the voting age. Online campaigns like that are for […]

    Pingback by Sure, Why Not? » Jokes that Need to Die — February 2, 2011 @ 3:17 pm

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