As a Brit disturbed and anxious about what feels like the Cuban Missile Crisis of elections, we keep hearing, "Care about the election? Go out and Vo-" oh. So, not all of us concerned with the US election can actually vote in it. But my experience in the past days and weeks gives me faith that anyone can make impact an election regardless of voting ability - simply by, well, partaking in that activity some of us are ashamed to admit we stayed up doing late last night: throwing our opinions all over social media.
You can impact the election by engaging with all those people we read about - the disenfranchised who don't believe their vote's worth casting, Bernie supporters who refuse to vote for Hillary, Trump supporters, supporters of independent candidates... The lot. Comments I've made have solicited replies including things like, "Really? Well maybe I will vote for Hillary." If Trump can affect voters' opinions with empty words and no experience, maybe we have something more convincing to offer.
Social media like Facebook is constructed as an echo chamber - and to the extent that their algorithms show us what we "like", it is. But it doesn't have to be: by engaging with people who disagree, you're presenting new opinions they haven't seen.
Even on comment threads of seemingly Trump-free pages like Channel 4 News, or the Hillary Clinton page, you'll see comment threads filled with points of views you had only ever imagined: on the Hillary Clinton page, many of the comments that pop up at me - about 40% - are pro-Trump. They're there to disagree and challenge Hillary supporters, or maybe to find out more. You can be there and on Trump's pages to challenge them, too.
Facebook provides an unprecedented open platform from which we can engage with people of different opinions. If you want to engage with a particular target group - say you think it's silly that people support independents in the face of Trump - try your search bar: Gary Johnson. Perplexed by 'Women for Trump'? Go engage!
Unlike engaging with Trump supporters in person, social media allows you to take time to think, paste in articles and facts from the Internet, and, of course, copy and paste your zesty statement in multiple places to maximise your reach in minimal time. Even the 20 seconds it takes to read and like an anti-Trump or pro-Hillary post makes Facebook present that post to more people. And that makes a difference, too.
Part of why I started engaging in this election on social media was to reach people, since I couldn't campaign in the US. In fact, however, I feel like, in the past, I've made less impact in my experiences of door-knocking and campaigning in person than I have now through commenting on Facebook posts - and all from the cozy comfort of behind my screen. While an afternoon canvassing might let me share my opinion with a few people who disagree with me, a few minutes on the Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump Facebook pages presents my opinion to hundreds or even thousands. In swing states - and on their respective Pro-Trump pages - this action has the potential to rock the balance for Hillary.
Posting on Trump-likers' pages is intimidating. But, making that impact is worth facing Trumpian rhetoric and giving a few minutes of our time, breaking that echo chamber when it's needed most. You're better placed to have your say now than ever, just by saying it, and saying it in the right place.
There is too much at stake in this election to do nothing. The tightening margin in the polls should ignite both fear and corresponding passion in anyone who values the progress we have made worldwide in respect for each other - on the grounds of race, religion, gender, nationality, and the environment. Fighting to influence others on these issues is important in all forms. We may not be able to do everything, but everyone can do something now. And when you can help even with just a few clicks, why have shame? There's no reason not to: #GrabHimByTheMouse