From the moment we step out from the comforts of our home, we are greeted with faces peering out from the borders of colorful posters. Almost no corner is left untouched, every nook and cranny accounted for. From sidewalks, the back of pedicabs, and even on local art murals, the smiling faces of hopeful candidates invite us to remember their name. Their catchy jingles being blasted on the airwaves doing their utmost to imprint their message in our minds, hopeful at winning us over.
At the end of a long day—even in the privacy of our own homes—there is still no escape. With social media came adaption, and our candidates are no different. No longer are they just faces enclosed in our television screens, nor are they just cheerful voices on the radio. They are constantly there, lurking in our pockets.
With the 2019 Midterm elections fast approaching, various senatorial aspirants officially started their respective campaigns last February 12. A plethora of 62 individuals, 51 being male and 11 being female, are currently in the running, hoping to claim one of the 12 seats in the senate. According to a recent Rappler article published last February, this year’s senatorial race has seen the most number of candidates since the 2010 elections where 61 candidates ran for a seat in the senate.
As voting day draws closer, there seems to be an increase of candidates utilizing social media in order to further their reach and likeability. The old ways of campaigning are not as effective in capturing the attention of the younger generation; they’ve realized that the best way to reach the youth is by speaking the language of the internet: humor, social media, and memes.
Humor draws an audience; many of the candidates have learned to navigate social media well. It takes a lot to stand out among the constant influx of content. The act of browsing through our social media feeds is almost automatic at this point. Like, share, react—and then on to the next post as if nothing really happened. A whirlwind of fleeting emotions before the next reaction takes its place.
But humor makes us pause, and they have learned to use our brand of humor to relate to us. Their posts get thousands of shares because they know that being funny gives them a higher chance of being favorable in our eyes. However, we cannot let that be the basis of our voting decision. When we share their posts, we give them traction to our social circle. We might not be actively campaigning for them, but we are introducing them to a bigger audience.
Memes are not enough to distinguish a good candidate from the rest. We have to look beyond their curated online personas to see their platforms—and the issues they are most passionate about and what they will stand for as our representatives. It is our responsibility as voters to not only make educated decisions about the people who will represent us and make decisions for the future of the Filipino people.
Any opinion and decision should be grounded on facts. Various media outlets have given Filipino citizens the opportunity to be informed on the candidates’ platforms. The internet has made relevant information more accessible than ever.
With such a varied group of candidates, it is of utmost importance now that we as Filipino citizens look beyond what is easily seen on social media. We need to take it upon ourselves to think critically about these candidates and make an effort to discern who we give our votes to. The simple act of casting our votes for these people hands them the power to govern our nation.