I know a few people who have asked me to vote for them or someone close to them in some contest. Most of the time, I oblige and click "Vote for XXXX" (it's usually online voting these days). In some instances, if there is a maximum vote count of five per voter, they would hint at you to click all five votes for the same contestant. Sometimes, you feel like doing since this makes the person happy, and so you do it without question since it requires minimal effort. And it makes the person happy. Because every vote counts, and yours would definitely make the person happy. Happy is good, no question.

Then, I start to think about it. Really think about it.

Usually, these contests are based on skill or some sort of creativity, for example a dance or cake decorating contest or a website design competition.
So I ask, shouldn't the rational for the winner of the contest to be the one judged as most creative/skillful/best-looking, and not one of popularity which is based on (unadulterated) vote counts from people who may have little to no expertise in the subject?

But it is the exact opposite that happens: fishing for votes from as many people as possible that you know or through as many forms possible to vote so as to win a contest, even if you may not deserve to be crowned the winner based on skill/creativity/etc. in the first place . I personally feel that a contest or game won by popularity when it is based on different grounds altogether is unfair and quite honestly, absurd. The playing field is not level in this instance, because influence is immeasurable and oftentimes meaningless to the rationale of the game.

I know that people will accuse me of following in this exact mindset if I ever take part in a contest that is ultimately decided on vote counts, but really, I say to them that I think the method of winning in this instance is questionable in itself and so I would refuse to take part in it to begin with.
Merit is dead in that sense. And to me, merit is very important to really reward the best from the good, not the people who gather the best amount of votes.

Though, I do not believe that politics shouldn't follow this exact manner I'm opposing. I shouldn't dub it as a 'popularity' contest in these circumstances, but rather, a contest based on who can influence the most number of people to believe in what they believe, and to really stick to their words. The people who would ultimately decide who is best to represent them also have a responsibility to play. They must not merely follow and be lured by powerful promises made by such persons. They must educate themselves and question the motives and ideologies of these people to understand what their words really mean and their possible consequences. It is wise to remember that such representatives are also ordinary men and women but with extraordinary stakes in their hands, and that they make mistakes just like the rest of us. However, if they make an error, it could cost the whole society, and this is where the pivot lies - in the votes of the people.

It then stands to reason that a contest based purely on vote count is circumstances-dependent. Politics at large, especially in a democracy, should not be decided by a select few, extremely powerful people who may choose those who fit their interests best while depriving the rest of the nation. This is not a democracy; it is an oligarchy. Therefore, a system based on votes is an optimal solution.
A contest that lets outsider people decide who to win is not just unfair, it negates the need for the contest in the first place. An extreme example would be if the winner of a web-design contest made a design that is at best, feeble compared to the runner up who designed one with excellent interface and user interaction, but it just happens that the winner was a famous person who has many (perhaps biased) fans. This is not to say that famous people cannot participate in contests, but that the winner of a contest should be judged fairly, and that is by those who know the ins and outs of the subject. A contest is fair not only when all the contestants are ensured of not possessing something that gives them an unfair advantage over others, but also that the decision for the winner is not marred by outside influence. It has to be based entirely on merit, not unsound judgment or inane vote counts.

I do not mean any offence by writing this post, or accusing that the nature of contests these days are twisted. No, I am not. Rather, my aim is to offer a view that I feel to be objective and rational, something society could use when faced with decisions that inadvertently affect others (in the case of a contest, the true deserving winner).

I'm all for rationality and logical decision making. Consider yourself losing out at a contest because you were of a different race, or gender or age group than the general population, even while you knew that you were better than the rest. Isn't that ironic? What is the meaning of a competition them? Absolutely meaningless.

I could go on and on from here, but this is getting too long and so I should stop.
I believe that we all should try our best to not be too affected by emotion and snap judgments that are unfounded. Progress is not about the gadgets that society claims to make lives better, but progress also can also apply to the mind, which means being better in our thinking; and I think that is a good thing to strive for.