Negging Young Voters

Another day, another round of “young people are so stupid, hah hah, why don’t they listen to us they are so stupid!” on the Internets.

And it’s not that certain generations do or don’t vote. This isn’t about numbers. After I politely suggested on Twitter that assuming they don’t vote is a bad way to open your argument, I got half a dozen ‘splainers all WELL ACTUALLY up in my mentions, citing various studies that show that this, that or the other group we are currently referring to as “millennials” does not vote in numbers comparable to their noble forbearers.

Which wasn’t my point.

This is my point: If you are trying to convince someone to do something they don’t do and you want them to do, DON’T START THE CONVERSATION BY CALLING THEM DUMB.

How hard is this? I get frustrated every year with the “young voters” conversation not because any of the generalizations are untrue but because who cares? Yelling statistics about The Youngs at the one you’re presently talking to helps you in this conversation how? The aim is to get people to vote. Begin by telling them they don’t do this thing and they suck, and they will stop listening to you. It’s like political pick up artistry and it’s as gross as the non-political version.

I don’t care if my experience of college students and recent grads (quick recap: About eight of them I’ve met recently I wouldn’t throw a rope to if they were drowning and the other 11,000 I’ve worked with are outstanding humans) is an outlier. I care about inept strategy.

How long have we been watching, for example, the newspaper industry doing this? Twenty years ago when I was starting out I was regularly told “your generation doesn’t read papers.” Okay, so what you’re telling the person in front of you is that you have made up your mind about their value to you already, and they don’t even have to open their mouths. GREAT. I can’t imagine why Kids Today don’t flock in droves to that which already thinks they’re bullshit. I know I regularly sign up for experiences where I’m guaranteed to get a regular tongue-lashing for the crime of being a customer.

This shit isn’t hard. Talk to the person in front of you, not the study you read or the intern you fired or the Affluenza kid or whatever the fuck else you think is going out there in the world. Do the thing in front of you, and convince the person you are talking to, to vote.* You want a hashtag for that? You want it in five words, political strategists?

Do The Minimum Goddamn Job.


*If that’s actually your aim, and you’re not just out to jerk yourself off. Let’s not rule anything out here.

3 thoughts on “Negging Young Voters

  1. Old people complain about young people. It’s their one function in life. Why do you want to take away our only purpose, A?

  2. “*If that’s actually your aim, and you’re not just out to jerk yourself off. Let’s not rule anything out here.”

    Logically, it is always moral masturbation for those who take this approach. The ones who do tend to hate the things that Youngs actually support and vote for, so any effective method of convincing young people to vote would be counter-productive.

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