Did Facebook just talk you into voting for a psychopath?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You think your vote comes after careful deliberation and analysis. You think your vote is an intelligent one. You studied the candidates, you know the issues, you made the right choice.

Bullshit. You probably voted straight across the ballot, Democrat or Republican.

Moreover, we’re finding out more and more that our political identities are very much governed by forces that are quite beyond our control. Genetics, for example, affect our psychology  and predispose us to becoming liberal. Scientists also studied twins – including those separated at birth – and found that while many broad-strokes political concepts might be informed by their parenting and social interactions, many more seemed to be genetically linked.

Everyone is pissed at CNN’s gutless, sloppy reporting about studies linking women’s menstrual cycles to their voting preferences, but really? At the end of the day, we’re all just bundles of synapses to be tickled, poked and prodded in ways that will make us do shit. Our genetic code says so; our FourSquare checkins confirm it. Why would something as repetitive as a menstrual cycle not affect one’s voting habits?

And speaking of the remote control of our nominally free will: Facebook.

In the last midterm election of 2010, scientists conducted a study on Facebook, wherein groups of people got nags to go vote in what are typically low turnout elections. The result was higher turnout among those who were actively asked to vote, especially those who also had friends who said they voted as well. Voting, it appears, may be every bit as viral as cat videos.

Let us not speak falsely, now.

And just who is it you think you voted for? The most reasonable candidate? The one with the best handle on the economy? Foreign policy?

Nope. Turns out that the traits most often attributed to successful politicians are also common sign posts for… psychotic behavior. That’s right. In particular, the social trait of “fearless dominance,” or being a huge dick, is quite common among both groups. The leader of the study helpfully stresses the following:

“Most psychopaths end up being pretty unsuccessful and maladaptive, and they end up in prison, which is usually where psychologists study them,” Lilienfeld said. “Even though the psychopathic personality as a whole shebang is not a good thing to have, this study raises the interesting possibility that at least some traits of this condition — especially those linked to lack of social and physical apprehensiveness, immunity to stress, and resilience — might be adaptive in real-world settings.”

Ah, yes. Because who has ever heard of a politician going to jail?

So, I’m really glad you voted. Honestly. But now that you have, you can sit back and relax, because you never really had a choice in whom you voted for. The universe is a rigged game of controlled explosions and we are merely the flotsam of inter galactic collisions. Our opinions are statistical, our lives artifice and our impressions of ourselves merely the deluded ramblings of monkeys on drugs in cages. Happy Election Day!

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.