This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
I ask the Zucker God each day why Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram didn't exist back when George W. Bush was a young(ish) man. I would have loved to see cocaine-fueled posts from Dubya himself, and it might have screwed him out of office at some point in time—and by extension saved us from some of the shit storm in the Middle East.
Had Facebook been more prominent when Rob Ford was a young footballer, I'm sure we would have seen plenty more than the entertaining shit we witnessed during the ol' crack-and-booze days. Maybe Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a cool past, but we'll never know. (I've got to admit, he's been pretty good at hiding the fact he grew up in Toronto.)
Those lucky old bastards probably had the best time of their goddamn lives—and eating the best meals without suffering from the urge to share pictures of them.
On the other hand, are we, the selfie generation, totally fucked if we want to go into politics? While my Facebook and Twitter history might be suited to be upheld among my colleagues and friends, I'm not sure that political party officials would be as pleased with me or most of the people I know. To see that I'm attending (insert rave event here) or fucked up on (insert synthetic drug here) with my (insert degenerate adjective) friends, might not make me the most appealing character to have around. Not that I'm a bad person, but I like to have fun—and politics requires boring people.
Last week, newly elected Alberta Member of Legislative Assembly, Deborah Drever came under fire for a year-old post to her Instagram with the caption "gay boyz." The now independent MLA —she was ousted from the NDP—posted the picture featuring her fellow politicians, former premier Jim Prentice and interim Alberta PC leader, Ric McIver, with hand-drawn speech bubbles saying "sexy mofo" from one and "Me-ow Yummy" from the other. Drever has since apologized for the picture, after she was suspended from caucus for the image.
I do agree with the backlash over the image Drever posted, it was in poor taste and inconsiderate for anyone to post smacks of juvenile homophobia, especially for someone interested in going into politics. But I'm not entirely convinced that everything Drever is being shunned for from past few years is grounds for public rage. One picture of her posing beside a shirt with a marijuana leaf is far less than scandalous—isn't Justin Trudeau trying to legalize the stuff? The image of her with an empty beer box on her head, it's silly, but not offensive. Another picture of her partying with her tongue out might not really be cause for panic.
I can't help but feel a twinge of empathy for the young politician. Because, to answer my own question, we (a generation just trying to have fun) are all fucked. If you have done anything wrong online (and I know you have) it can be dug up. Even the stuff you regret is there for others to bring up. Kind of like that shirtless video of Trudeau used in his attack ads. Also, a fucked up Rob Ford swearing in patois who, let's face it, does this shit to himself. Or even a equally shirtless, macho Vladimir Putin riding horseback in the Russian mountains. No wait, that was staged, and awesome.
On the other hand, it's possible for people like Toronto MP/former punk rocker, Andrew Cash—who presumably rocked harder than I do now, it was the 80s, after all—to make it into Parliament without dumb shit haunting him online.
My mother always told me "what goes on the internet, stays on the internet," but many of my generation have yet to heed that advice. Drever is certainly not the only young politician to post less than appropriate things online. We've driven her to remove the name of the account "Drevfever" off Instagram, which is probably a good move for her career, but a lame one for her life. Yet, It might still seem to some that the 26-year-old is actually just an average 26-year-old who can't erase her past.
Young people flock each day to the virtual world, and we've only recently started to see how it can affect the political world, too. About a third of young people feel that social media will influence their vote. More and more people have been using social media to voice their vote and opinions, too. Each party is trying to harness the power of social media for their own advantage, trying to gain support.
On top of all that, 67 percent of Millennials think that they will continue to carry on with their internet-sharing ways as they grow up, mature, and have families. Maybe we'll end up in a generation where everyone has so much dirt on each other, not a week will go by without a new political scandal involving beer pong, G-bongs, and frat party nudity.
The takeaway lesson here is that, if you have any plans of going into politics, you're going to have to be a social media celibate for the first 22 years of your life. Curb stomp that TweetDeck and kick it off a ledge. If you plan on being a little shit and also going into politics at some point, get ready to face the music.
The only people who will rise to the top will be the boring, monotone, antisocial kids who only post anime and inanimate objects as their profile pictures. I can even see that the people who buy likes could make it into the world of leading provinces and countries, at which point, I cringe.
Boring people will breed boring politicians who will create boring policies. I guess nothing will be changing anytime soon.
Follow Sierra Bein on Twitter.