Today at 5pm, blackout period ends. You will become aware of this because this is also the time when all the Guild candidates start changing their profile pictures, in a great, green-and-red synchronised rampaging of your newsfeed. In this war, only the colourblind make it out alive. Anyway, we were going to hold today’s post ‘til then, but then we came across this new theory, and we simply could not resist.

So like, I recently Facebook-friended STAR Prez candidate Nevin Jayawardena (why d’ya keep me waiting, Wei?), and noticed a few photos of his were showing up on my newsfeed. The first one was pretty unflattering to be honest. His hair looked like a crow had died upon it, and the lighting was like something out of a scungy ‘80s B-movie. His expression was ‘grumpy cat who has been denied warm milk’. It was like 2011, I think – maybe he didn’t have Instagram. We were all unattractive before Instagram.

Nonetheless, I smiled. It was funny. Cute! This guy is human. He knows how to laugh at himself. He is like me. The warmth of human affection spread like butter on hot toast.

Soon, my Facebook became populated with Nevins of the past. These Nevins were a lot more well-groomed and definitely the curated work of a professional photographer. They positively glowed. Each scroll downwards summoned a new one: Nevin in dinner jackets at fancy Blackstone soirees, Nevin popping sick moves on DESI dancefloors, Nevin of the Colgate-ad smile and wearing what I take to be his signature navy-blue bow tie and are those cufflinks I see quick zoom in!! Nevin at more ECOMS balls than you can shake a high-priced mojito at.

Flush with Nevin, I found myself instinctively liking the guy. Sure, I’ve only met him once when he gave me and some other rando last-minute marshal training for PROSH back in April. But that cheeky grin! And look, he’s so connected to all these diverse campus groups and clubs.

Then I had a look at who was commenting to revive these posts. Huh. Looks like STAR people. A quick check confirmed that yes: it was STAR people. Is his party surrounding their would-be king with love, with encouragement, with solidarity? Are they delving into his timeline to better know the ‘real Nevin’? To express fealty? Maybe. Look, I won’t rule it out. Because the alternative to this is that it’s a calculated party social media strategy; an ingenious ruse by which they can boost their candidate’s profile without breaking blackout regulations. I am a Comms graduate: I know that in this game, reach is everything. Brand presence is everything. Voters are not rational creatures – if you want to bring them to the ballot box, you win them with their hearts first, then their minds. Then their souls.

Did this happen last year with STAR’s then-candidate Maddie Mulholland? Yeah, an ex-STAR source tells me. Yeah it did. No explicit instructions, they say. It’s just the done thing. Launch does it too, they say.

Sneaky! And a bit sad? Just lol, really.

Words by Kate Prendergast

I am a giant ear, waiting for your songs of niceness at <[email protected]>.