Voting Next Saturday? Please, Please, Please… …Don’t Watch The Ads

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Voting? Mudslingers Paradise

How do you feel about voting in the latest election? Are you enraged by the callous disregard shown by the [opposing] party? Or are you seriously sick of the mudslinging and emotional manipulation?

Enraged

I am. When I watch the TV ads, both parties enrage me about the other. When Malcolm is on, Labour enrages me. When a Labour ad is on, the Liberals are a callous, xenophobic, elitist group. Of course like everyone my cognitive biases are strong, and I justify one party’s indiscretions over another.

Sick Of It

But mostly I’m sick of the US and UK style of mudslinging that prevales. Seriously there are two levers: Fear and Greed. If the opposing parties policies scare you, that’s exactly how you’re meant to feel. The advertiser is playing you. Like a fiddle

My concern is that everyone I’ve spoken to is voting based purely on the TV as their principle information source. On TV ads.

What To Do

But what to do? I mean, in a week we have to vote, right.

My resolve is to not watch the adverts:

What Are You Ideally Voting For?

I’ve literally written down the policies I’d like to see in play. Policies about STEM education, innovation, getting us from 60th in the world for broadband speeds, humane treatment of refugees. Policies about protecting natural resources, funding science, research and development. Policies about a social net for the working class, and fiscal responsibility attracting companies to hire people in Australia.

What Are The Party’s Really Promising?

Then I go online and read the policy manifestos of the three primary parties. Let’s face it, the Hunters and Shooters, or Sex Party are

  1. Not likely to get in, which is a waste of my vote; and
  2. Their policies are actually not very comprehensive at all anyway.

Then I vote according to the closest the party’s policy matches my ideals.

At the very least, I’ll read the actual promises made without the context of the emotional manipulation of consumer advertising.

How about you?

If BRExit Teaches Us Anything

BRExit

This morning at 7am UK time, 2pm in Sydney, we learned the shock result of the BRExit Referendum…

…Leave

I won’t rehash the arguments here. Suffice to say the UKIP Leader Nigel Farage renounced his promise of an extra £350m to the NHS in what must be the quickest break of a campaign promise in history. Truly historic.

And Boris Johnson suddenly started suggesting that the UK could take it’s time to leave. After all, he’d achieved his primary objective of succession to the top job. Of course, the EU is having none of it…

The very ‘working class’ people (read elderly working class people) that wanted to ‘take back their country’ to guarantee their jobs, in a single day wiped >£120B off the London markets. Later the DOW Jones opened and also lost 600 points, totalling an amazing $2.1T loss.

Hardly a promising start to wealth and prosperity. Deny your youth the opportunity to work in 27 countries, and kill the very corporations that need to employ them at home. Take the world economy with you for the ride. And tear both primary political parties in two whilst you’re about it.

Nicely played.

Nothing New

But we’ve seen recessions, depressions, and financial crises before. Smart young people will train for careers in technology that allow them location independence. It’s the under-educated, older, working class people that will struggle to find work in a changing world.

As to halting migration, BRExit won’t matter a damn. I don’t believe that we’ve begun to see the mass migration that Climate Change will wreak upon the world. EU or no, borders will become all but irrelevent.

Apathetic Youth

No. The biggest concern that I have is an uninformed, unengaged, and largely apathetic youth.

If the BRExit teaches us anything it’s that we need to find a way to engage with Millennials. Not just in the UK, but throughout the developed nations that depend upon centuries old democracies.

BRExit Young People Voted to Remain
BRExit Young People Voted Remain
Credit: BBC

Those Gen Y’s that did vote in the UK, overwhelmingly voted to remain. Unfortunately, however, less than 40% of Millennials voted. So with less than 75% of the population voting, and a marginal 51.4% majority, had some more young people voted the outcome would have been very different.

Radicalisation

This is especially concerning when we look at radicalisation. Democracies have always found it difficult to deal with non-state actors and guerrilla groups. But never more so than in a day where the very communications fabric of society gives global access to non-state organisations, for free.

[ted id=1189]

So on the one hand we’re hoping that a democratic process, invented 800 years ago for a very different world, will engage young people. And those that would disrupt democracy make it easy and compelling.

If we are going to require young people to register and vote appropriately, we need to compel them, and inform them.

But perhaps it’s too late…

Thoughts of a Father: You Should Become Who You Want To Meet

One of the accusations levelled against me when Lucy and I got engaged was that I, an itinerant beach-bum, just wanted to marry her because she had a house. Despite the fact that she also had a mortgage, and two children, was entirely besides the point. There was, is, a perception that we marry someone because of what they bring to us.

My observation is that this is insidiously embedded in our culture. In the way we socialise our children. In gender discrimination. And ultimately this becomes the criteria we use to choose our life partner.

One of the most important things I want my daughters to learn is a healthy way to approach long term relationships. I remember my father advising me “Kissin' don't last, cookin' do.”

And that's the last advice I'd ever want to give. Not that we shouldn't value practical care over sex(ual attraction). But that we should care for ourselves rather than needing it from others.

Emergency Oxygen

Speak to any relationship counselor and they'll quickly get to the principle of 'You need to be happy in yourself, before looking for happiness from another.' What I call the 'Emergency Oxygen' principle. You know, put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping a fellow passenger.

Personally I've found this advice to be pretty unhelpful.

I fear there are far fewer people with healthy self-esteem than there are relationships. And mostly, self-esteem isn't an absolute as in, you have it or don't. Rather it's contextual, there are contexts where you can have great self-esteem, only for someone to walk in the room and shatter that.

So to only enter into a deep relationship when you achieve a unicorn state of permanent self-worth is an impossible ask.

The nugget of the principle is true, of course. That's why it's so popular. My experience puts some practical legs onto it though.

Not Why But What…

Ask yourself the question, “What do you want from your partner?”

Is it financial security? A house? Dare I say it, some form of status, like religious, or social, wealth or class status? Do you want someone to keep you safe? Someone to care for you, or (one day) your children?

Whatever that need is (or those if more than one) figure out how to provide that for yourself first.

That's it.

Anything you want, figure out how to get that yourself.

Independence

The first step to interdependence is independence.

If you want a husband (or wife) so you can buy a house, figure out how to buy your own house.

If you want a wife (or husband) to cook for you, figure out how to cook yourself.

If you don't believe that you want a partner for any of these things, get honest with yourself 🙂

Admittedly this is an incredibly hard ask when you're young, poor, lonely, and wired for your sexual peak. But if you can figure this out, you'll be in a far better position to navigate life in a partnership. Especially if you're a woman (unfortunately).

Independence empowers you to bring your full self to the relationship. To give rather than take, or the ultimate route to mediocre disaster, 'give and take.' To add to your partners strengths. To become a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

It frees you up from insecurity, fear, jealousy.

The Challenge

Of course there's a challenge of bringing 2 fiercely independent people to a relationship. But that's a far healthier and ultimately easier challenge to overcome than bringing one or two needy people into a relationship.

21 (and a half) Years And We Still Have The Heat

Picture of Roger and Lucy in Hot Air Balloon
Not just full of hot air

Regular readers will know that Lucy and I alternately treat each other to a Romantic Week-end Away without the kids for our wedding anniversary. Whilst (usually) the dates are known, the destination and activities are always a surprise to the non-organising partner.

Because of our careers, me travelling a lot so racking up Frequent Flyers etc, and Lu working as a Public School Teacher, she has found it challenging to surprise me. Recently, however, she’s managed to change all that.

A couple of years ago she surprised me by booking a Cruise. Given her prediliction to motion sickness, this was huge. This year was even huge-er.

As we were on holiday in South Africa with 2 of our daughters (and their boyfriends) over our recent anniversary we decided to have the week-end away during the year. Hence the Gold Coast last week-end. Where Lu pulled out all the stops.

Now you have to understand, Lucy is frightened of flying, and terrified of heights. So to book the both of us on a Hot Air Balloon Ride, was spectacularly outside of her comfort zone.

And as ever when you’re outside your comfort zone, magic happened.