You don’t NEED to vote.

For those of you who may have been living in your little cage of revision, today was the day for people to vote in the EU elections. This may be an iconic day for some of you, if like me you have recently turned 18 and therefore are voting officially for the first time. Let me stress something: This does not mean you HAVE to vote. First of all, let me start by saying that I certainly didn’t; I felt like I didn’t know enough about the candidates standing to vote effectively, and I’m certainly not going to abuse my right to vote.

This relates back to what I have seen so much on social media of today – people pressurising other people to vote. Yes, we have the right to vote, but that doesn’t mean we have to. By not voting I am not ‘abusing the system’, and by not voting it does not mean I can’t have an opinion on the election as a whole. One comment I heard in particular today was ‘If you don’t vote, then you can’t complain’. A vote is something that I believe to be completely a person’s choice, and I think it is wrong to pressurise people into voting when they don’t particularly want to. I would rather make my vote educated rather than just closing my eyes and picking a random box to tick.

I mean, Facebook is even pressuring me now. Five times today I have heard my phone ‘pinging’, and every time it has been Facebook trying to tell me where my nearest voting station is. Not that they’re hard to miss, with the big white signs. Yes, I agree, it’s amazing we have the right to vote, and society has come very far, but I also have the right to buy 10 tons of chocolate every day if I wanted to, and I certainly don’t that. Because I don’t want to. It is not hard to understand. If you are a young person that has voted today, well done to you, but I do hope it was an educated decision, or because you wanted to, not down to the peer pressure.

It feels as if nobody pressures older people to vote, and that is what annoys me the most. I would never go up to my parents, or anybody older, and interrogate them with statements such as ‘Oh, I hope you have voted’, ‘You better have voted, otherwise *insert people they don’t want to get into power* will win’.

I’m certainly passionate about politics, but I’m not passionate about pushy people.

The self-proclaimed philosophers of the internet

We all have a teenager on one of our social networks that think they are literally philosophers. Sometimes I dread to open Facebook because I know my news feed will be full of that one person’s comments. Comments such as the re-used Marilyn Monroe ‘quote’, ‘If you can’t handle me at my worst then you certainly don’t deserve me at my best’, or the typical quote about heartbreak. Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with expressing yourself, but at least do it originally, because re-using the same quotes used by other people over and over again is certainly boring.

I can guarantee these are the same people that delete their Instagram photos after 3 minutes if they don’t get any likes…

How far should we really go in order to ‘succeed’?

As humans, we have created some socially-constructed idea of what to ‘succeed’ really means. It’s sad, that we seem to have defined success as having a great-paying job, to have paid off all of your mortgage, make yourself a ‘household’ name, or even to have a certain amount of Twitter followers. Yet, even when we reach that level of ‘success’ nobody ever seems to be truly happy. In my cynical view of the world, it’s clear to see that people find an excuse to be unhappy, or to complain, because what sense of fulfilment are you going to get if you don’t have something that you dislike? As humans we are looking for the next thing to strive towards to make ourselves better in the eyes of society, but is anybody really watching? Or are we all too caught up in ourselves?

It’s hard to tell whether our obsession to be the ‘best’ is an awful or wonderful thing. I mean, on one hand, it gives people direction in life, striving for something. It can be something good that you strive for, such as gaining £1,000 for charity. On the other hand, it can truly be ugly, striving to be ‘popular’ or even striving to gain insane amounts of money. That’s materialistic, and it’s often the case that people turn ugly inside, full of greed, with less friends than they started with. Money is an object, and it’s difficult to define why we are obsessed. Money is success, and the majority of the time we are so shallow not to care how we make it. It’s as if our concious shuts down. To me, it seems as if most people would find £20 on the street and not hesitate to pick it up and claim it as their own. I guarantee that £20 doesn’t seem a lot to the majority of you reading it today. But, what about if the person who dropped it was a woman who had just been kicked out of her home, with three children, by her husband, and that £20 note was all she had to survive on. Again, that woman is viewed as unsuccessful/a failure because her net worth is low. That woman could have a life-changing business idea, or maybe even a medical cure within her head, but the unfortunate reality is that how is she going to get listened to without enough money to give herself a platform to tell people?

I guess what I find most upsetting, is that people have lost their passion. It seems that people all go for the same type of jobs (law, accountancy) because of the money, not because doing those kind of jobs gives them a real buzz. For example, I recently attended a careers event, where the main focus was law and accountancy for school leavers. The selling-points of the positions weren’t that it could be an incredibly interesting industry, but instead that as a school leaver you could earn over £30/£40,000 each year. I literally yawned when I heard this, yet everyone else around me got all excited with a unanimous gasp. I want to go into journalism/media, and quite honestly I can say that it’s because I love writing, and it’s exciting, money is something I purely need to survive, and if I can make a sweeping statement, sometimes I wish money didn’t exist.

Even when people have enough money to suffice, they aren’t all of a sudden happy. Let’s look at rich celebrities; all the money in the world, yet still entering rehab due to issues that were caused by money in the first place. So if money is what it takes to be successful, then I’d rather not be successful at all.

Standardised Testing – The Oh-So Wrong Fast-Track To Success

One thing I have never agreed with throughout my short 17 years of life is standardised testing.

It is common knowledge that human’s brains work in a variety of different ways; different types of students are different types of learners. For example, we have the Auditory Learners – the people who learn quicker or do their best when hearing information rather than reading it. As well as Visual Learners and Kinaesthetic Learners, all of which are fairly self-explanatory.

Now, the Government are all for catering towards all 3 types when it comes to teaching in schools, giving schools grants to spend on tools such as Interactive Whiteboards, which is all well and good, but when it comes down to examination time, where does all this effort go?

Suddenly students have all of this fancy learning equipment taken from them and are simply placed in front of a rather intimidating exam paper, hearing the ever-unenthusiastic voice of an invigilator say, ‘You may now begin’.

It’s as if the Government have forgotten about everything they have previously preached about different types of learners.

It’s a sink or swim situation when it comes to written exam papers, and I argue that the majority are mainly a test of memory. Soon enough results day comes around, and surprise surprise, many are disappointed, others are happy, some will go to good universities, the rest have to settle for something less than they expected, and in the end ‘research’ has apparently and unfortuantly shown that the candidates that attend good universities are more likely to reach a more successful career.

All because they were good at remembering stuff.

As Albert Einstein once said: ‘Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.’