Last Thursday, when my oldest friend Emily and I went to vote for the first time in the gym at my primary school, I felt nervously excitable, but also like I was looking at an old photo of how politics used to be. As we were leaving Emily turned to me and said 'that's the last time we'll ever do that.' 'What,' I said 'vote?' 'No. Vote here, with a pencil and paper.'
Something about that felt true. As bizarre as my 90-year-old Grandma finds it, logistically we can now do most things online. Starting petitions, buying and selling anything we want, contacting whoknowswho, wherever they are. We live in a modern fashion, and last week I did question whether or not we would ever have the option to vote this way too.
In the run up to the general election my Twitter and Facebook feeds were filled with people encouraging others to register their votes. On the 'big' day last Thursday, I saw loads of 'vote-wisely, get the Tories out' statuses. Have you voted? Facebook asked me.
Yes, I had. And from looking through my various social media outlets, I felt hopeful that the Tories were on their way out. If everyone on Facebook and Twitter was voting Labour, we've got a chance, I thought optimistically. I did forgot that online, just like offline, I gravitate towards my own bias. This meaning, I boycott The Mail, and I also boycott the Mail reader.
At about 10.20 pm on Thursday night, when I looked at my phone, the Watsapp group my girlfriends and I have together had over 200 notifications on my phone. The exit poll was in, and we were all in despair over whether or not it could be correct. 'I'm leaving the country,' 'Same.' 'It can't be right, the exit poll is only 0.04% of the population.' 'They're never wrong.' It was desperate. We were listing things that were going to happen if the Tories won this unpredicted majority. 'Looks like I'll be living with my Mum and cats forever,' one of my friends said.
By about 11pm, my Facebook and Twitter had been intensified. A conversation popped off on my friends' Facebook group beginning with 'Well this is gutting, not only are the Tories winning but its looking like they'll get a majority.' What followed were comments of confusion, shock, and most importantly anger...
'I really think we're now going to realise what a majority Cameron government is capable of, and I blame Ed Miliband's terrible campaign for this. He never should have become the leader at such a pivotal point.'
'FUCK THIS FUCKING SYSTEM AND THIS FUCKING UNDEMOCRATIC SOCIETY THAT WE LIVE IN THAT CLAIMS TO BE PROGRESSIVE. IF THE TORIES GET BACK IN THERE IS SOMETHING FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED IN THE MINDS OF BRITISH PEOPLE. I'm exiling as soon as I can'
What I took from these two conversations, on reflection, was that in the run up to the election, from looking at these online 'medias', myself and the people around me had been so sure that the Tories wouldn't get back in because we saw so many people state that they were voting to oust them. However, when faced with the exit poll, we realized that something had been lost in translation, the opinion of a lot of people in Britain.
A young person's relationship with politics in 2015 is a confused one. We are encouraged to be political, but never taught about how our system works. We have the vote, but the action in itself feels out of date. And then, when the result comes in, that false sense of hope that I definitely experienced is diminished by the knowledge that actually, there was not a huge amount of hope, just a security blanket of peers.
The Conservatives won the general election just, granted. Labour did shockingly badly, true. I am not saying that had online voting been an option this would be entirely different, but at least it would show signs of progress in a political system that seems to be getting stale and mouldy.