The most surprising thing about Saturday’s call that Joe Biden had won the election wasn’t really the actual call, of course; after that first 24 hours or so, it had been becoming slowly but convincingly clear that Biden was more than likely going to take it barring any kind of over-the-top shenanigans on the part of the Trump campaign and administration. Which isn’t to suggest that there was no chance that such shenanigans would take place — one only has to look at what has been happening in Trump world over the last few months, and increasingly over the last week or so, to see that shenanigans are definitely on the menu over there.
But still; by Friday, it felt as if there would be little way to overcome Biden’s lead without it being something that would be both all-too-obviously a cheat and roundly rejected by the country as a whole. His victory seemed more or less in the bag; it was just a question of when, not if.
The surprise, then, was watching everyone’s reactions to it. Perhaps I’m too cynical and jaded, but I didn’t expect spontaneous public parties across the country, never mind across the world. I didn’t expect to spend hours on social media, just scrolling and looking at the relief and joy of people who realized that their very existences weren’t going to be actively legislated against anymore. (Yes, Biden and Harris are, to be polite, imperfect options; they’re also a hell of a lot better than Trump and Pence, and the weird “what about”-ism that’s argued otherwise from both sides of the spectrum has been gross and sickening for the last few months.)
I wasn’t alone, either; the feeling of recognition as people continually came up with counterpoints to the term “doomscrolling” to explain their inability to stop looking at other people’s relief and pleasure. (“Dreamscrolling” was my favorite, although “joyscrolling” was more popular.)
More surprising than anything, though, was the feeling of hope that came from watching everyone’s response. More so than the win itself, watching the reaction to it made me hopeful that we’re headed on the right track, after years of it feeling the very opposite. And, even more hopefully, that we’re ready to do the work that needs to be done, at least in part.