ASB candidates, please stop DMing us

Why campaigns DMing people individually is disingenuous

Lance Tong

It’s that time of the year — ASB elections season. Any other time of the year, a direct message, or DM, on Instagram might be either a friend responding to a conversation or a friendly request from somebody to study. But now, I’m receiving dozens of unsolicited messages about how I should vote for someone and no one else and I’m tired of it.

I don’t want to say that students running for ASB shouldn’t campaign. They should draw attention to their cause — that’s the life of campaigning. Students can achieve this through adverts on their social media sites and posters, and these are all acceptable forms of campaigning which allow voters to choose who they want without feeling singled out.

But when campaigners enter into the world of DMs and begin sending unwanted messages to prospective voters, they cross a line. I have threads of DMs where the only messages from prospective students are when they are running for ASB. Here’s a rule of thumb: If you don’t make a more genuine effort, I won’t vote for you. 

Not only is it annoying, but it can also be intrusive. When I vote, it ends up feeling like there’s someone trying to pry away the mouse and mark something else for someone else. Annoyingly, these are the same people who try to convince me it’s my choice who I vote for (as long as it’s them, obviously).

Another message from an ASB candidate for a vote (Lance Tong)

What makes all of this worse is the fact that many of the messages are just a few words long, like “Vote for me for ______, only me if possible.” In my opinion, the most effective ASB campaigns are those that inform and unite. The point of leadership and, by extension, ASB is to unite. But by sending passive aggressive messages to the masses, they contradict the exact platform that they are running for. The way to mobilize votes is not through harassing every one of your contacts, but by creating an enthusiastic, impassioned and touching campaign. 

I understand where prospective ASB officers are coming from: they need votes, but people don’t necessarily know who they are or what they stand for. So they come directly to us. In a way this is no different than political groups sending mail about how we should or shouldn’t vote for something. But it’s also different — and worse. Trying to say “you’re not the most qualified” to a classmate who I have to face every single day is just social suicide. By not responding, I send the same message, sometimes inadvertently. The unsolicited advertising puts everyone in a weird spot. 

So if any prospective ASB officers are reading this, then please stop sending unsolicited DMs. My DMs are not an advertising space for ASB elections and not many people are going to vote for you just because of a DM. Nobody is going to vote for you if the only time you talk to someone is when election season rolls around. If we never talk until you want me to vote for you, then that is textbook disingenuousness. Nobody is going to vote if everyone is trying to take the choice away from the voter. You are not informing — you are manipulating. Stop it. Now. 

If this doesn’t stop, then I implore the MVHS administration to stop this. Make it against regulation to personalize advertising or to spam students messages about voting for a specific candidate. Advertising on their stories and posting on social media are OK, but individual, direct and intimidating advertising should come to an end.