This year’s new voters will need to put their social media savviness to good use and help deal with misinformation.
When the General Election last happened in 2015, I was only 19. Despite being unable to vote, I was eagerly keyed in on the news related to that year’s General Election.
Lee Kuan Yew, our late founder of modern Singapore, had passed on earlier in the year, leaving his Tanjong Pagar GRC stronghold to be contested for the first time since 1991.
Given the previous election’s “watershed” results swinging against the ruling party, the 2015 General Election turned out to be a disappointment for those looking for the opposition to continue the wave.
Yet, no matter how someone leans politically, there should be one goal everyone should strive towards: Wanting the best for our home.
Voting may be compulsory for all Singaporeans but our duties stretch far beyond queuing at the polling station for that one hour. No matter where we stand politically, voting should be taken with pride and as an opportunity to struggle for the best for the country.
As a youth myself who is going to be voting for the first time this year, I understand why the notions for wanting a change all too well. This sentiment, however, should not blind us in our judgement.
In 2020, all Singaporeans will have to wrestle with the constant scourge of misinformation or ‘fake news’ circulating around social media and WhatsApp.
Don’t believe that ‘fake news’ could get to you or your family? Just recall how your parents and grandparents have sent you articles about how COVID-19 was manufactured in a factory. Perhaps you might have shared bogus stories about wild animals returning to nature while humanity is quarantined.
While we would want to believe that nature is healing, we need to remember that we have a duty to verify, to the best of our abilities, every piece of news we share. No matter how much we want it to be true or how innocuous it might seem, we are, in our small ways, influencers that have the ability to wreak havoc.
However, this is easier said than done given how fake news are bound to be those that are anti-establishment or pro-establishment for the sake of it. Misinformation, unfortunately, stems from both sides. We will have to do more than just digest clickbait headlines and pass them off as the complete truth.
While browsing through comments on Facebook, we have to be wary of comments by spam accounts with their incendiary but baseless takes. Even videos have the ability to misrepresent through misleading editing, making it necessary to do a bit of detective work cross referencing and verifying.
If we, as voters, truly want the best for our country, we will have to be as open-minded as possible in evaluating our choices to make the best decision. We will also have to tamper our passions and gently demystify and debunk any ‘fake news’ that might be floating around our timelines.
Just remember that no matter how puzzling or objectively false someone else’s opinions might be, barring bots, they are human behind their keyboards as well.
Everyone will have a part to play in this election. This election’s generation of new voters will have a particularly important role in dealing with misinformation given our tech savviness – our addiction to all things social media might finally be useful for once.
As youths, first-time voters will also have to make key decisions during this turning point of history.
All these reasons are, perhaps, exactly why I feel like I can play a big role in the General Election, and why my vote will matter even as a first time voter.
Voting will be more than marking an ‘X’ on a ballot paper, but more of a process that requires vigilance, understanding, and meaningful deliberation amongst friends. It might feel like our votes don’t matter especially if nothing seems to change but elections and votings are more than just the results at the end.
Politics aside, Singapore and the world at large is facing down an unprecedented economic downturn amidst long-standing socio-economic issues. No matter the outcome, voting is a duty and privilege that not every country can say they have. This General Election, let’s use our voice responsibly.
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