The season premiere of Walking Dead aired yesterday, so despite my valiant efforts to think about politics, I just couldn’t do it. Before the show aired, I had to focus all my mental energy on saving my zombie-fighting friends from the disastrous events of last season’s finale. After the show aired, I was too emotionally drained to think about who will become the leader of the free world.
All I can manage is this: I am so invested in this fictional world, set in a zombie apocalypse in the not too distant future. I’ve been following these characters for seven years and I care about what happens to them. The story means something to me. I’m sure there’s a television program or book series or video game you appreciate in the same way. You love it so much you think about it while you’re going about your regular-life business. You might feel like those characters are your friends or at least a strange neighbor you see every day from across the street. I bet the series has made you cry through a box of tissues or laugh until your stomach hurts. And it’s not real. At least, the characters aren’t real. The story isn’t real. All it does is pull something real out of you.
If we can be that dedicated to a make-believe universe, we should be that dedicated to our own—at least for the next sixteen days. Let’s try to care as much about our reality as we care about the fiction we enjoy. And if we care, we participate. So go vote.