How often do you look at your phone for no good reason? Once a day? Three times per day? Too many times to count? For me, at least, the last phrase is the most accurate. Sometimes when I’m feeling bored, or avoiding making eye-contact with whomever in the library, I open my phone and just scroll down my Facebook newsfeed. I look through pictures of old friends (and people I might not know), like statuses and obnoxiously tag my friends in memes.
But, in the last few months, as my news feed has been increasingly filled with memes of Salt Bae and Kermit the Frog, it has also been filled with a high volume of political news and content. Our country is on the brink of change – whether you’re excited at the thought, or gravely concerned. Trying to keep up with the plethora of events happening in the news – especially that of upcoming legislation – can be quite difficult. Across social media, people share videos and links to articles, and Facebook gives a trending list, but this can be quite shallow. The sheer number of bills that will be introduced in the next few months, and even years, will affect each and every one of us. But how do you keep up with what they are, what they will do, what they will cost you and how they will affect the public? Yes, access to this information is out there. There are formal articles that give in depth coverage on proposed bills, but time is of the essence. This is where Countable comes in…
Called “Tinder… for Unsexy Congressional Bills” by GQ Magazine, Countable is an mobile application that seeks to give the public more information about legislation, and also a greater voice in national politics. The app provides easy-to-understand summaries about ongoing and proposed legislation with answers to prompts such as “Who will be impacted?” “How much does [the bill] cost?” and “What are the arguments against it?” In addition, to make the app more user-friendly, downloaders can ‘follow’ issues in which they are particularly interested, such as: economy, ISIS-ISIL, arts, culture, religion, business, abortion and many more. And, in addition to giving a brief, plain English summary of bills up for vote, users are given a voice, with the ability to directly vote “Yea” or “Nay” to proposed bills and have their votes sent directly via email to their respective representatives. Lastly, Countable keeps lawmakers accountable for their voting; users can follow up with representatives and give open-ended feedback after bills are voted on.
In today’s political climate, it’s easy to feel like you do not have a voice, especially when isolated on a college campus. Some of us might not have the means or the time to travel to marches or rallies advocating against legislation that might put ourselves, our families or our peers in danger. And when we do have the time, many of us spend it absently on our phones scrolling down our newsfeed. Although Facebook may provide some discussion and news regarding politics, participation in politics on the site can be, at times, quite shallow. So instead of scrolling on Facebook, scroll on Countable. Countable gives you an admittedly small, but impactful, way to participate in national politics. By no means is Countable the only tool for having a voice as a citizen, but it does put some power back into the hands of the people in a time where many might feel like they have little to no voice.