It is currently 9 PM on Wednesday, November 4, after election day 2020. And I still have no idea what the results are, and I expect that I’m fairly alone in that regard, at this point*.
I guess I should explain.
I’m sure everyone’s been extremely on edge this year, and particularly this election, for many reasons… I think it’s not a stretch to say this is the most consequential election of our lifetimes (2020’s gotta one-up everything, including 2016).
But recently, particularly when the news of RBG’s death broke, and then more recently when ACB was confirmed to SCOTUS in her place, I’ve had what I’d probably describe as crippling anxiety, mostly characterized by an inability to work or do anything but sit around scrolling through page after page of doom.
That was despite my (failed) attempt at isolating myself from the news around the time of ACB’s confirmation… I’d avoided news sites, but enough crept through that I still got enough context when she was actually confirmed, which sent me in another downhill spiral for the rest of the night, generally gave me horrible insomnia, and bled into my mood the following day or two.
For the election itself, I decided I needed something much stronger, especially since the issues with mail-in voting meant we weren’t likely to have results on November 3 (with the senate taking even longer than that**). Much like the 2016 election, when I decided I needed to go to bed after results started coming in so I could wake up to the reality of President-Elect Trump rather than seeing it happen, I thought it would be better for my mental health if I could just receive the final results (good or bad) all at once.
So, starting yesterday at around noon, I cut myself off from anything that could possibly spoil any part of the election results or developments relating to them***. This started off fairly simply and obviously (avoid Reddit and The New York Times), but I realized it would need to be even more comprehensive, since reading anything on Twitter (election-related or not) shows a sidebar with “current news”, accessing YouTube to watch any video will show news-related suggestions on the front page, and well-meaning friends might reach out over Hangouts or Discord if the result went badly. I was even afraid (in the event of a bad result) that the ACLU would email me some words of encouragement (“We’ll continue the fight!”), so I also ditched my inbox. And a fear over the resulting ads (targeted or not) meant I didn’t want to visit even any webpage that could have even remotely political advertisements. Even things like checking stock prices (or accessing any website that includes any form of stock prices or indexes) might offer a clue to the results.
So almost cold turkey it was. In a lot of ways, it’s a repeat of my week in the cabin, with no internet access, with the biggest difference being a few “safe” websites (pretty much only Kingdom of Loathing and its forums, which seem to generally avoid any sort of politics) that I allowed myself to visit.
This is all made possible by the fact that Salesforce granted election day as a company holiday this year, and I also took today (Wednesday) off ala 2016 when I booked it preemptively in case things went south. (And then I was so glad to have the day to angst with Yubin and Max at their apartment when they did.) I’m pretty sure that any meetings at work today would have been full of election news.
So… did it work? I think it did. I slept pretty well last night (despite waking up from more than one “Trump wins!” dream). I’ve had a generally anxiety-free day and a half of playing video games and dealing with photos and having relatively normal vacation days (much like the cabin days, which were amazing) instead of doomscrolling. I’m ready to wake up tomorrow morning, pull open The New York Times, and start the process of either acceptance or celebration.
And so I sit, and wait, and hope. It’s lonely, but still worth it.
We’ll see how I feel tomorrow morning.
*Fairly alone, because I know several of my friends are doing a similar thing. I just don’t know how many of them have broken their internet/news hiatus by this point… I’ll find that out tomorrow morning too, I suppose. If this is something you can at all do given your job, I highly recommend it.
**The presidency isn’t the only thing that matters. Even if we get a Biden win, a Republican senate majority will ensure that the next 2 (or 4) years are as full of partisan gridlock as Obama’s last years were. Any hope of making real progress on climate change, or tax policy, or border policy, or true Coronavirus action, or the shitshow of SCOTUS rulings that are sure to follow depends on the senate.
***In addition to the results themselves, I’ve also been extremely anxious recently over all the news around voter suppression and potential armed conflicts and more in the aftermath of the results, and particularly Trump’s frequent statements that he might not accept the results. I figured I’d give that some time to settle down, as well, so I could learn (for example) that Sacramento was literally burnt down in armed riots or something rather than watching the developments leading up to it. I’ve watched enough depressing developments this year to last me a lifetime.
Edit: Well I was unpleasantly surprised this morning. But I think avoiding all of the obsessive result refreshing over the past 36 hours or so was still well worth it. Hopefully we’ll know results by the end of the week, although the senate appears pretty shot at this point.