Tomorrow I will be voting in person at my local polling station. I did not vote by mail or via early voting in any one of the places that one could vote early in my county.
Early this morning on twitter, Dan Benjamin asked:
"For those of you who are voting but haven't yet (neither early or absentee) I ask you: why? Is it the in-person/on-the-day thing?"
A bit later this morning I replied:
"@danbenjamin it is for me the vote in person at the poll experience."
And just a couple of hours ago, I tweeted to the world:
"Tomorrow is going to be a circus, so I am going to line up to vote at the local poll at 4pm w/ camera & notepad in hand, then go to Walt's."
I spend all day and most evenings in my apartment on my computer both for a living and for the pure, shear joy of my love for the internet. I, the borderline introvert/extrovert who needs both a couple hours every day to myself & time with folks, have had quite enough of being all by my lonesome and doing things "virtually".
Early on in my freelance web design / development career, I discovered that the best way to keep from going completely nuts with feelings of isolation was to spend my mornings, when I had social energy built up, doing errands and then go out to lunch, and then to spend my afternoons and evenings working*.
To counter all this on the computer time, I have made sure that I talk to friends on the phone (not IM) or get together with them in person frequently, as well as attend all manner of fun community events - from the mundane (botany) to the cool (concerts) to the bizarre (house movings & demolitions) to professional events (SXSW and other conferences**) - in person and experience them with all of my senses and all of my person.
The very idea of even more time online or diverting communal activities in real life so that I have more time to "work" or be with my family is rather bizarre and revolting to me. Humans, be we introverts or extroverts, are social creatures. Getting out and about, even if only on a occasion is good. Different folk have differing needs for social activity, but I do think it is important that we gather together as a community more than once every four years or so.
Much as been lamented about the decline of civil involvement and civility, much has also been lamented about the decline of community involvement and the like. I get it if you don't want to go to church/mosque/temple/whatever & teach Friday/Saturday/Sunday school on top of attending every other event on the docket. Neither do I. Or if after a long day of work or school, plus commitments to your family & friends, that you don't have a lot of time to volunteer or attend civil / community forums every week. But I think it is important to get out and about and involved in the greater community, however you define it, at least a couple of times a month.
There is a good reason that we humans have, regardless of culture or religion, a wide range and a rich tradition of gathering together for festivals, holidays, elections, fairs, games, and sports. In these events, we bond in community and build culture.
I am not going to miss the community and spectacle that will be the election tomorrow. I want to go to my new polling place in Seal Beach, The Little Church (whereas our previous elections have been held in a living room on 15th Street). I want to stand in line. I want to participate in my community. I want to have a chat with the folks I know from our mutual dog walking. I want to be inconvenienced. I want to experience this once in a lifetime election viscerally, not virtually.
div class="note"* If you have clients who have a strict 8am - 5pm schedule, it drives them nuts that I don't get to my "desk" until 1pm at the earliest (one savvy client copped on to me and started calling me before he went to bed at 11pm to discuss what was needed before 8am the next morning).
** Much has been made recently about virtual conferences, saving the planet, reducing your carbon footprint (ie not flying), and attending conferences virtually. Did I mention that folks say that it is environmentally unhealthy to travel to conferences?
Ah... I don't want to go into a long rant about carbon counting as the new puritanism, but folks, if you are already living in a good to moderate environmentally aware lifestyle*** then attending an in person conference or two or three per year will not kill any polar bears. The whole point of a conference is to convene with other human beings.
For all of the pro-polar bear smugness that can warm the cockles of the neo-enviro-puritan heart, I can't get into the virtual conference experience. I recently was given a pass (thanks, Andy!) to attend the <head> conference. Basically, I didn't like it. The speakers were good to great, but beh.
It was not a community event, it was a virtual event. Aral & Stephanie did an incredible job putting the whole thing together, of which I aplaud them for, but I really did not like the virtual conference attendance. If I am going to sit for multiple hours nicely and listen then I want the pay off of 15 minutes of socializing with real humans in between each speaker, not chatting on an im/irc/chat interface. bah.
Maybe if I had been at one of the in person, in real life hubs, I would have liked the head conference better. But maybe not, the very essence of humans from a variety of walks of life all coming together and the random meetings that occur in a real-life/meatspace conference can't be replaced by the online experience. The only time that I can see this working for folks is if they are deep introverts for whom a regular conference is fraught with social peril and upset.
*** In case you are doubting my enviro-cred, while I am NOT a neo-enviro-puritan and I do have Hanen-Anti-Authoritarian rebellion issues****, I do my part to not buy into and live out the American Consumption Dream. I live in an 224 sq. apartment of which I neither run heat nor A/C, I own and drive a Prius, the meat in my freezer is locally raised by my cousin (grass-fed & no anti-biotics) and butchered locally, I buy local produce year around (w00t SoCal!), I recycle, etc.
**** My brother also has Hanen-Anti-Authoritarian rebellion issues and as a result is so sick of the neo-enviro-puritans that he goes out of his way to be as un-enviro-friendly as possible. This raises up another issue that I need to blog about, remind me to do so, but that the environment movement needs to get off its high horse and make it fun. At best, religion has proven that you are lucky to get anywhere between 10-20% of folk truly believing in a puritan movement (pick any historical movement of your choice) who may then bully the other 80-90% of the population into complying, but not for long. If we are to really and truly environmentally save the planet we need to take a moderate diet & exercise style plan that allows for occasional cheating and good dollops of fun.