Recently I took our 16-year-old Alena to Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get her driver’s license. She passed her driver’s test at a local driving school here in Monument back on September 1. However, we had to make the in-person visit several weeks out due to Covid 19 restrictions. The big day finally came and me with my organized self, had a big folder in hand. Filled with her Social Security Card, her Birth Certificate, and 150 hours of driving logs (she was only required to do 50 hours), we stepped up to the window. Immediately we were foiled, as I was not the parent who took her to get her permit, we had to wait 45 minutes for my husband to come down to sign for her license. Needless to say, I was livid, but that is another ball of wax. As we waited, Alena said, “Mom, I thought it was over exaggerated in movies and cartoons how bad the DMV is. They aren’t kidding, it really is bad.”
As we waited for my husband Cedrick, we noticed a stream of individuals getting their license. One gentleman in particular was a Hispanic Millennial. He informed the DMV clerk that he recently left the Army and moved back here to Colorado. He was polite when he was asked questions, “Yes, Ma’am. No Ma’am. Where do I sign Ma’am?”
Eventually, he was asked the question, “Would you like to register to vote?” He paused and replied to the clerk. “I had this conversation with my father this morning. I feel I am not informed enough to vote. So no, I am not going to register to vote.”
The irony of his statement was not lost on me. He had a smart phone in his back pocket. Basically, a minicomputer at his fingertips. He can look up song lyrics, sports scores, who was the first man on the moon, all on that phone. With that phone, he has a plethora of information squarely in his hand. But voting information, is something he cannot look up?
Two more individuals came to the clerk’s window while we were waiting for Cedrick. This time two black men. Both men were under the age of 30, both declined to register to vote. My heart sank. Why did these young men all decline to register to vote? Do they not see the turmoil this country is in? We lose almost one thousand people per day to Covid 19. We have some of the most violent racial protests in fifty years. We have a climate that is trying hard daily to get our attention. Is there not one thing that these three men felt compelling enough to get them to vote?
I have had a few days to think of that visit to the DMV. Maybe we do not have enough information, but what if we have too much? In November 2016, I and my spouse got our first iPhones. One of the first things I did was turn off news notifications. I did not need to be reminded of the tumultuous election we just lived through. I took a six-month news break after the election. I took Hillary Clinton’s loss like loosing a friend, a loved one. I got my news from my husband or family members and the comedian Bill Maher. I started watching the news again when President Trump fired James Comey in May 2017.
We have all experienced burn out in media at some point in time. Each generation has their favorite way to consume media. For my generation, GenX, and Boomers, our preference is television, radio, on-line sites, magazines, and newspapers (yes, we still read newspapers). Millennial and GenZ’s are more prone to get news from social media. You may have read articles that say the longer people are on social media, the more their anxiety levels increase. I am not writing this to say social media is bad nor is it good. It just is what it is. I use it sparingly, like spice on a rack. I do not want it to overpower the recipe that is my life. I like to stay in touch with family and friends but look at more at reputable websites for my news.
If we did not have Covid 19 restrictions in Colorado right now, I would have gone up to those men. I would have told them that had until October 26 to register online; and they have right up to election day, Nov 3 to register in-person.
Information is power, and with information, you can control your own destiny, career, and money. Information gives you the power of decision making because of the knowledge you gain that will help in the decisions you can make.