The era of social media meets Gen Z voters

Capturing a photo with the physical adhesive "I Voted" sticker after casting a ballot is a trend especially popular among Gen Z, the generation born between 1997 and 2012.

 

Clara Vidal, a 20-year-old UF nursing junior, posted a photo showcasing her "I Voted" sticker on election day, along with the millions of other photos uploaded under the hashtag.

Social media platforms have influenced the way voters encourage others to head to the polls, whether with a "Vote" digital sticker on an Instagram story or by sharing with Facebook friends after completing the civic duty.

But capturing a photo with the physical adhesive "I Voted" sticker after casting a ballot is a trend especially popular among Gen Z, the generation born between 1997 and 2012, according to Pew Research. 

Behind Vidal's decision to post a picture of her sticker after she voted was the sense of urgency to influence others to do the same and vote out President Donald Trump, she said. 

As a first time voter with immunocompromised parents, she couldn't pass on the opportunity to make her vote count as she traveled back to her hometown in Tampa to cast her ballot. The way Trump has downplayed COVID-19 and wouldn't denounce white supremacy during the first presidential debate has spoken volumes in the kind of president he is, she said. 

"He didn't make America racist," Vidal said. "He allowed racist people to come out of the shadows of the woodworks and let that be OK."

Ultimately, Vidal is happy she could get conversations rolling on Instagram as many of her followers messaged her a slew of emojis and written messages showing their support of her decision, even if it cost her to lose a follower or two, she said. 

Also a first time voter, Anthony Portugues posted a sticker selfie on his Instagram story using a graphic created by his fraternity, Lambda Theta Phi. 

Portugues, a 20-year-old UF business administration junior, enjoyed participating in the fraternity’s “I Voted” social media campaign because of how interactive it was, and it also provided a section to write the reason behind their vote. 

“Part of the idea behind it is everyone’s doing it, everyone’s posting their sticker,” Portugues said. “So you feel left out if you don’t have a sticker or post that you got a sticker from voting.”

Yet, some don't share the idea of needing to post their sticker online. Allison Fruland, a 19-year-old UF Biology sophomore, was a first time voter who captured this patriotic time in history with a quick selfie on her phone but only with the intention of sending it to her mother. 

Fruland believes that people post their stickers online purely for others to know their political stance, so she doesn’t like to participate in that, she said. 

"I just think it's more important to know what you think and vote for yourself versus what other people on social media are telling you to vote for."

Contact Valentina at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @lvbotero_.

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Avenue Staff Writer

Valentina Botero is a UF journalism senior. She started at The Alligator in January as a general assignment reporter, but now she's a staff writer for The Avenue. She loves photography, drinking cafecito and baking chocolate croissants.