So now what?

The time for obsessive-compulsive election monitoring has come to an end. Cupcakes, anyone?
By SARA FAITH ALTERMAN  |  November 5, 2008

081107_hangover-Main
I have an election hangover.

No, not because I was drunk with the power of voting on Tuesday, or even because I celebrated historic political victory with fistfuls of booze. Rather, I've consumed way too much election coverage for way too long and, now that it's all over, my head feels fuzzy and my stomach is churning, as I rack my reeling brain and ponder how I can possibly occupy myself with equally obsessive fervor from now on.

I liken this post-election mourning process to the same anticlimax that rocked Red Sox Nation in 2004, a few weeks after our beloved idiots shattered the curse that haunted this city for 86 years. Boston's collective inner monologue went a little something like this: "We won! We won! Holy shit, we won! I've been waiting my whole stupid life for this moment, and it finally happened! Woooo, Red Sox, woooooooo!!! WOOOOOOOOOHELLYEAHSUCKAS! . . . So . . . now what?"

Hell yeah, suckas, "so,now what?" is right.

Many of my friends and colleagues have, like myself, restructured the last year and a half of their lives around keeping up-to-the-minute on political coverage. We trolled the Internet like rabid news-junkie hyenas, searching for plump and juicy info nuggets, monitoring blogs and stats and statements. RSS feeds served us a constant stream of political morsels. Daily Kos and fivethirtyeight.com held us at rapt attention. And the TV coverage, oh, the TV coverage, ensured that, whenever we had a spare 15 minutes of couch time or were too zonked on weekend mornings to drag our asses to an overpriced brunch, we could mesmerize our gluttonous selves with more election coverage, more candidate tidbits, more Sarah Palin gaffes, more, more, more!

Now, the election is over, and I think we're all at a bit of a loss.

Whenever an entire nation collectively gears up for anything, à la China for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, or Germany for the 2005 release of the latest David Hasselhoff album, it's easy for its residents to get swept up in the frenzy. This election captivated Americans and the international community, not only because of its historic implications but, perhaps, because of the wealth of information that's at our fingertips at any given second. Our latent OCD gets rattled by the instantaneous accessibility of election information, thanks to laptops, Blackberries, Twitter. Four years is a long time for technology to develop, after all, and each presidential election sees spankin' new information-gathering and -transmitting tools.

Do we become progressively more interested in elections because they are becoming more interesting? Or are they becoming more interesting because we have technology that enables us to become obsessed with them?

My head hurts.

I don't know what my new obsession will be. Something that has the same level of online-accessible information, but won't keep me awake at night — baking maybe, or cats. It seems less likely I'll have to wonder whether Mr. Jingles will be able to craft a decent blueprint for a national health-care plan, or whether my cupcakes will get stale before the party's over and I'll have to serve my guests a less desirable backup dessert, like Fig Newtons. Either way, I suppose I'll get a lot more work done, or even pick up my old hobbies, because I won't be glued to the TV or the computer, holding my breath over the polls. For another couple of years, anyway.

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