While working on my next 24 hours Of Facebook post, I logged in to FB and saw this:

Facebook Election Day Event

Facebook Election Day Event

My next serial post on Facebook will have to wait while I deconstruct this disturbing “road sign” of societal progress.

In a great scene from a terrible film, Gangs of New York, we see thugs and bullies round up hundreds of tenants and homeless, criminals and drunks, immigrants and laborers to go to the voting booths to pull the lever (several times) for Boss Tweed’s cronies. “How many times have you voted?” (paraphrasing) asks Bill “The Butcher” Cutting (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) of a stumbling drunk. The answer is insufficient for Cutting and he wheels the drunk in a 180 back to the voting line to vote again.

This was the innerworking of Tammany Hall, a political machine that dominated New York and US politics for decades. As an Irish decendent, I can appreciate the opportunities it created for the Irish yet deplore every ounce of scandulous effort it employed.

No, I’m not about to compare Tammany Hall with Facebook (or for that matter, Digg) and its users. Relax Kool Aid drinkers. What I will emphasize, instead, is that the meaning, power, and responsibility of the Right To Vote has eroded to the lowest level in my voting life.

In the early 1990s, Gen Xers were accused of angst-ridden indifference to the societal and political issues of the day. This myth was generated by the media to sell print and video (and,thus, ads) and by politicians to gin-down support and was, and has been, thoroughly dismissed by the more learned among us as fallacious.

However, never missing a beat, the media and politicians are at it again this incredible election cycle. Gen Yers, Time Magazine’s 2006 “Person of The Year”, are the new target. But this time instead of the generation being dismissed (as was the mistaken case in the 90s), they’re being courted. And they’re being targeted by the new Old Media and new Old Boys networks with the very systems created by the Xers. (Ironic, huh?)

Warning: What is to follow may will be taken as an inflammatory statement.

In my opinion (which still counts, right?), the problem with Gen Yers is that they’ve grown up in a morally relativistic world and this society has taken away discernment, percipience and skepticism from them. In fact, Gen Yers have been further programmed by the new Old Media and the new Old Boys networks via the coddling and enabling systems of emerging social media and networks.

How have they been programmed, you ask? Perceived peer pressure. The antithesis of “Just Say No”. The must of belonging and participation. The ridicule of the alternative. The prevention of self-enlightenment. All of these tactics have worked far beyond the wildest expectations of marketers, educators, politicians and any other platformed group with constant touch on this generation. The successful socialization of Gen Yers by the aforementioned conspirators has created a generational edifice that not only mindlessly follows but is also now beginning to mindlessly lead.

The old meme, “Why Blog?”, is dead. The new meme “Why aren’t you [insert blogging, FBing, YouTubing, twittering, etc here]?” is the haute couture and, if you’ll give me the liberty, this leads to the inevitable: “Why aren’t you voting?”. Or, even further, “Why aren’t you voting for [insert: Obama OR McCain, no room for other candidates]?”. The new Old Media and the new Old Boys networks have entangled socialization (if you think I’m referring to Socialism, you’re a nit) with their agendas (ditto).

Voting, once a right AND a responsibility, has become, thanks to FB and the machines, an Event. An Event one is compelled to do without reasoning or consideration. Just doing it, or worse – RSVPing to do it too, is more significant than the act itself. The Election Event, by its very creation on Facebook, debases the importance of the election to that of Tappa Kegga Brew’s next party. The proof is in the 1.8 million FB user who have already RSVP’d to Tuesday’s Event.

Boss Tweed himself couldn’t have dreamed of a gang larger or more effective than this new Tammany Hall.

Update: Just saw this new Facebook Event this morning. Free coffee from Boss Starbucks.

Election Day At Starbucks

Election Day At Starbucks

And this from Ben & Jerry’s. Ooooh, a free ice cream cone when you celebrate “democracy”.

Facebook Election Day Cone

Facebook Election Day Cone