I saw the sign.
But believe me, it didn’t open up my eyes.
About three days before the federal election, I saw an interesting sight on the Main Street and Princess Crescent island: approximately 12 Mike Sawyer signs situated along the slightly over 400 square metres of greenery.
I don’t know if Sawyer put those signs there. In any event, I doubt he put all of them there (as I’m sure he’d acknowledge the irony, in the environmentalistic sense, of doing so).
Regardless of how they got there, the sight made me chuckle as I headed into town.
That’s not a dig at Sawyer, I would have found the sight to be funny regardless of what candidate the signs belonged to.
In a day and age where it’s easier to get information out to the masses than ever, it truly is a testament to the tenacity of the ego that such a self-centred form of political slacktivism still takes centre stage in our political landscape.
I often wonder if a single vote has been changed by signs.
The answer, of course, is most certainly yes, but only because some of us lack the conviction to make choices ourselves and instead model our decisions around those close to us who we idolize.
In any event, it’s basically self-aggrandizing one’s one political views to the point of being paramount to a political endorsement (while you might feel like your endorsement is just as important as, say, someone like Nathan Cullen’s or Alice Maitland’s, it’s not).
Then there are the public roadside signs: the barrage of orange, green, red, blue, and darker red which sprout up across the arteries and veins of our transportation network every 18 to 48 months like some sort of semi-annual fungi.
Except unlike a toadstool that will make you sick, this fungus infects you in a more insidious way; reminding you at every twist and turn of your morning commute of what has essentially become akin to the leadup before a big sports tournament.
The teams are playing!
Here (for the 47th time today) is a list of all the players!
Who are you cheering for?
But that’s the problem: politics is not a sport and politicians are not franchises (although with all the lobbying and quid-pro-quo that goes on in federal politics, I can see how people get it confused).
In a day and age where just about every aspect of our lives — what we eat, wear, watch and listen to — is influenced by the external stimuli flying around in both the physical (traditional advertisements) and digital (cookies, AdSense et al.) countercultures à la Tyler Durden, the last thing we need is for people to be basing their political views on what candidate seems to have the most signs up in the area or who the neighbour down the road you dislike is voting for.
And yet here we are, still hammering up these wasteful (I wonder how many are truly recycled or re-used, especially for one-time candidates) advertisements.
Ego, of course, will always be a big part of elections, perhaps more so now with the widespread-yet-virtually-free reach of social media (one of the main reasons the sign is losing power).
Before you’d place a sign in your front yard; now you can place digital signage on your digital property via things like political photo filters and cover photos.
And while political discourse on Facebook isn’t known as a bastion of respect or substance, it certainly provides more of an opportunity to critique each other’s political views.
Political signs only give us an indication of the “how” behind someone’s vote. At least with social media, we can start to see the why.
I guess it’s just a sign of the times.