If you live in the U.S., you probably already know that it's Martin Luther King, Jr. day. You might have the day off from work and/or your kids don't have school - since it is a federal holiday. However, the day has a lot more meaning than just a break for government employees or a day off from work or classes - it's honoring the legacy of a man who (peacefully) fought to make the world a better place.
Held on the third Monday in January (close to MLK, jr.'s birthday of January 15th), this holiday is meant to honor the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his work with the American Civil Rights movement. We can't say it better than the King Center, and so we quote:
"The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America. We commemorate as well the timeless values he taught us through his example — the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that so radiantly defined Dr. King’s character and empowered his leadership. On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit."
We think these are values that everyone can agree with, regardless of your politics, religion, race, gender, orientation, or creed. But this year, remembering MLK might have a extra layer of meaning.
This year, the holiday might have a special meaning to many of us, as the inauguration of perhaps the most divisive president in U.S. history and the women's march on Washington are happening less than a week later. And while only time can tell whether or not this march and the associated events will be as historical as the original March on Washington in 1963, it's hard not to compare the spirit of the two events, at least in some ways.
So we'll close this with another MLK quote that feels appropriate this week, as it is indeed a challenging and controversial time for us all...
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
The election is over, the winner has been chosen, and now you might have all sorts of free time - and social media bandwidth - on your hands. Whether you are elated, disappointed, or something in between, now is also the time to figure out what exactly you're going to do with all that energy you've invested in this presidential race.
The causes and issues that you care about won't cease to exist with the end of the election cycle, so you can and should keep working to build a better tomorrow during the next four years.
And we have to be somewhat glad for that! Even if the election is close or contested, at least the incessant campaign ads will be done and it will stop taking over your social media and demanding your time and attention via the 24/7 news cycle. Therefore, you've got some free time!
All of those amazing movements, activist groups, charities, and other important issues raised during the election don't disappear during off years - and chances are that you've learned about a ton of worthy causes that you can and should devote your time, attention, and even social media space to now that promoting and/or defending your preferred candidate is a thing of the past.
Volunteer your time, donate to charities and institutions that are important to you, and don't stop making connections - and therefore making a difference - now that we have our next president.
If the election only whet your appetite for politics at all levels, it might be time to think local. All of those city and town council members, representatives, judges, and more are the ones who really make the difference where you actually live.
If there is a change you want to see, a cause that you want to draw more attention to, or you otherwise want to get more involved in local politics, this would be the perfect to take all that energy you invested in the presidential election and put it into your hometown.
It might be as simple as creating a catchy hashtag and some Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook-worthy content, at least in regard to getting things going and picking up some social media momentum.
If that gets things going, there are a multitude of next steps that you can take. Following up on an initial outpouring of responses might take the form of organizing a meet-up or group, especially if it is a locally-based cause. Or you might be more inclined to set up a GoFundMe to raise money that will make a difference, start a petition on Change.Org, or create a website for your movement.
And don't neglect your "base" on the original social media platforms - keep them engaged with updates and new content, as well as by reaching out to the people who support your cause and getting them more directly involved. Connecting with the media wouldn't hurt either!
So at the end of the day and no matter what the result, you’re probably at least somewhat excited for the election to be over. Election fatigue is at an all-time high this year, and it's probably particularly bad for those of you who live in the prime battleground states. So use that free time and attention to do something else positive for your community, your state, or your country. That's how you can make a real difference.
It's the picture that takes over your Facebook page on election day! So what's the story behind the "I Voted" sticker?
The stickers started popping up in the early 80's, by 1988 they become a staple after major elections. If you ask realtor's in Phoenix, they may tell you in 1985 their realtor's association was the first to hand out the stickers. You can read more about their claims in this 1990 article.
It turns out though, a teachers union handed out stickers to their members to encourage their coworkers to vote in the 1984 election. That same year there is a United Press International story noting the then Vice President George Bush was sporting an "I Voted, Have You?" sticker after he voted.
Today polling offices offer stickers in multiple languages while some states like Ohio went custom. The buckeye state held an online contest which resulted in an “I [Ohio shape] voting.”
Believe it or not, one manufacturer of the penny-stickers says they make 30 million stickers a year.
One of the most popular places to find a collection of these stickers on voting day is the grave of Susan B. Anthony. You can read more about why people bring their stickers to the sufragettes grave here. For 2016, it became a hotspot with the first major party female candidate on the ballot, the cemetery went as far as staying open late so the last voters could stop in. A local TV station had a live Facebook feed for over three hours showing all of the excited voters taking pictures and leaving stickers.
The "I Voted" stickers were actually written into the Illinois election law books in 2015, stating if stickers are offered, they have to be offered to everyone. Unfortunately, angry businesses owners near the polling sights didn't quite feel the love since the stickers often end up on their windows. In the city of Chicago the popular stickers have been replaced by "I Voted" wristbands.
The stickers are won as badges of freedom, but another explanation for their wild popularity is that many businesses give out discounts or freebies like a cup of coffee.What's interesting about this custom is that technically it is illegal. Giving people free stuff for voting in a federal election is illegal under a law meant to discourage corruption. The thinking is that if you give benefits to anyone who’s voted, you might end up encouraging them to vote a particular way.
If you're reading this at any point after November 8th, 2016, then the world hasn't ended on Election Day and you've survived the United States presidential election with (hopefully) your sanity intact.
There is one thing to be said for this election - that it is a historic first. The first time we've had a viable female candidate as the first choice from a major party. It's also the first time in the modern political era someone outside of the establishment has earned the nomination from a major party.
However, there can only be one winner, and that winner and soon-to-be 45th president of the United States is (somewhat surprisingly) Donald Trump. Much is uncertain about a Trump presidency, but one aspect is clear - things are going to change in 2017.
In his victory speech from his campaign headquarters in New York City, the president-elect urged Americans to "come together asone united people" and even praised his opponent Hillary Clinton for her service to our country.
Is your Facebook feed filled with feuding "Trumpsters" and "Hillary Homies" going at it, and all you really want to do is support democracy without landing in the trolling crossfire? What's a good American to do? Apparently, we can all register to vote. Not only will we have done our civic duty, but apparently our reward is a male nude scene in an upcoming movie!
Joss Whedon, one of pop culture's favorite directors rejoined Twitter (he left last year) and immediately released a video with A LOT of famous people asking everyone to register to vote, and—wait for it—a promise that Mark Ruffalo will get naked if you do. Warning: There is light profanity and some pretty anti-Trump moments in this video:
The video was created by a PAC called Save the Day, which is dedicated to “the idea that voting is a necessary and heroic act.”
There is a certain synergy to the idea that the man behind The Avengers reboot would come up with a "be a hero and vote" type of campaign message. Whedon, in his signature way, hosted a half-hour Facebook Live event talking about the issue.
The "lots and lots" of famous people in the Save The Day video all took a tongue-in-cheek approach and definitely had fun with the message. Actor Don Cheadle's baby-sized rant and Actress Ashley Johnson's surprisingly tearful plea break from the cheeky delivery to pack a serious punch, but, for the most part, the celebrities just encourage people to register to vote, and then follow through on voting day.
At the 2:11 mark, the video takes an interesting turn when the celebs offer up actor Mark Ruffalo for a nude scene in his next movie. Ruffalo acts surprised and confused by the offer, saying, "They should just vote because it matters, don't you think?" In the Facebook Live event, Whedon says that when Ruffalo was approached he wanted to know why him. The director replies that it was because he didn't know Channing Tatum.
Whether you want to see Mark Ruffalo naked or not, the message is a good one. Go get yourself registered to vote, and vote... for whoever you support. The savetheday.vote website has links to register. Once you do that, remember to go to the polls on November 8.