November 6, 2008
To celebrate the election, public space trumps MySpace
This may have been our most digital election yet, what with candidate MySpace pages and YouTube debates and all. But when the electorate wanted to share its jubilance on Tuesday night, we did it the old-fashioned way.
My mother-in-law tells me the only thing she can compare the spontaneous celebrations to is the end of World War II. I, personally, thought about the fall of the Berlin Wall. In my neighborhood, my husband and I were surprised to find crowds gathered on the corners of the nondescript intersection a half block from our apartment. “Why here?” someone asked me at one point in the night. “I have no idea,” I responded. We arrived just as the scene was about to blow. As my husband ran home to get the camera, the traffic cleared and you could almost feel the brief collective pause – should we? Shouldn’t we? Now? — before the throngs ran into the intersection, chanting and laughing, high-fiving and dancing. Cars beeped, then amiably pulled u-turns, save for one, which carefully pulled into the crowd, stereo blaring, to provide a soundtrack, while the occupants climbed out to take photos from the roof. Within a couple hours, the crowd had swelled to 500 or so, the police had come to keep peaceful watch, and the local drum troupe pounded out infectious live accompaniment. Cheers erupted each time fireworks went up, which was often. As we headed home about 1 a.m., a young African American man, dreads trailing behind him came running toward us shouting, “We can do anything!” My white Canadian husband high-fived him, yelling back, “Yes, we can!” It was a scene that was replaying in cities across the nation, and it could never have taken place on Facebook. Tuesday night we were where we really belonged – together, out in the streets.