While voiceless in the electoral college, the minors of the twenty-first century have learned to make their voices heard. Through massive group chats and Instagram and Twitter feeds, we have found outlets for expressing our emotionally charged opinions. We are able to share our outrage and our passion and emotional destruction. We are able to comfort each other, and find camaraderie in a network of shared experience.
I think we assumed that he couldn’t do it.
That this was an impossible outcome.
The youth of this city’s liberal microcosm, entrenched in our own hope, swimming in a social climate of twinkly-eyed liberalism, assumed it would be fine. We assumed our vision of a loving, intelligent world would persist through all of this. I mean, none of us can vote, but we assumed it anyway.
We sat up through the night together. Well, not together, all in different places: some with our families, some in our bedrooms watching online. It was striking to me that we could watch the collapse of our country on a television screen. But we were together—in a web of group chats, on Instagram, on snapchat, trying to hold each others hands with humor and shock and tears and astonishment.
My best friend, laying in her bed with Twenty One Pilots playing in her headphones, delirious, and only getting news through us, kept sending us song lyrics and titles:
“Sometimes death seems better than the migraine in my head.”
“Implicit Demand for Proof.”
“We Don’t Believe What’s On TV.”
Her boyfriend sat up on his roof, drunk and wondering what the world would be like in the morning. He has a rule against smoking alone, and when he told us he was about to break it, all of us told him we would sneak out to come save him. Either so that we could be his excuse or so that he wouldn’t need to. In the moment there didn’t seem to be anything more important than this. Maybe there wasn’t.
My cousin texted me at 197-244. “America cannot come back from this. This is rock bottom. I will be forced to graduate high school with this asshole as my president.”
I kept sending them jokes: pictures of election day cookies, “H”-emblazoned blue ones almost gone. “The red ones aren’t as pretty and they don’t taste as good, but there are more of them.”
“Petition to change the national anthem to ‘American Idiot’ by Green Day.”
“I literally just had the physical urge to stop, drop, and roll. Like I just fell off my chair.”
“Can Brooklyn secede from the Union?”
Maybe humor is just the only way I know how to deal with this. Maybe laughter is my only survival tactic. It seems like that’s the case for a lot of my generation. Through the entire election, we’ve sent each other memes and one liners and Tumblr text posts, trying to refract a horrifying reality through satire.
All of us, in pain, but still laughing, started talking about what we would do after. Started asking if we were going to school tomorrow. Started asking if we would be able to survive this.
The people whom I spoke to the most that night were fellow editors from my prestigious high school newspaper. It’s the type of high school newspaper that gets called pretentious a lot. We are all politically engaged, all liberals, and all confused by how bias played into the media’s coverage of this election. As the future of the industry, we’ve watched and debated how newspapers, TV channels, and internet news sources have handled the election, and had to decide how we would cover it on our own. It was never quite clear to us what we were trying to do: there was no clarity in how we would deal with such a clusterf*** of a topic if we were the ones that were shaping the perceptions of millions of Americans. There wasn’t even clarity in how we would present it to a few thousand high schoolers.
That night, we watched the media we both look up to and look down upon deal with the same frustration and dubiety that we were.
“Guys, Brian Williams’ son is friends w a family friend who’s at my house rn, and he texted his son ‘What the f*** is going on right now’ during a commercial break.”
“im weak” someone replied. There were no other words.
It is with these people that I shared hysteria, awe, and despair. It is with these people that I attempted to reconcile the ideals of my community with the will of my country.
After we went home—after my father had gone to bed, we were still sitting up together. My mother came up, exhausted, not understanding, and told me to turn off my phone and my computer and sleep. She said that at some point I needed to separate from the world and turn to self care. I told her, no, that was what she needed. I needed the comfort in the confirmation. I needed to know in the moment it occurred. I needed to keep spectating.
At our age, there is a sort of obsession with vicarious experience through a screen. Many of us were extremely involved with this election, despite not having been able to vote in it. Or maybe it was a compensation for that lack of control. Either way, we stayed up. We stayed awake, refreshing the polls, watching CNN, and reading through a tsunami of emotion on our feeds.
“major sad reacc"
“idk. I just. Sigh. The f***.”
“I’m running out of sad emojis.”
“SHUT UP THIS ISN’T HAPPENING!”
“Just… Shock and Awe.”
“This is reality. This is our reality.”
We stayed up, still sharing, until our bodies gave up on us.