The Agony and Anxiety of the Internet on Election Night 2020

In 2020, television feels slow and one-sided. It talks to you but never listens. At 3 pm Eastern on Tuesday, CNN still had a countdown clock promising that “Election Night in America” would be starting in one hour. Starting? Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, and TikToks from sea to shining sea had been giving updates since sunrise. Folks on TikTok requesting a calendar invite for the next civil war. People on Twitter photographing empty grocery store freezers as proof of an anxiety-fueled Ben & Jerry’s shortage. None of those missives contained actual election results, mind you, but they were part of America’s 2020 presidential selection process all the same. This latest election isn’t one night in America; it’s been playing out trepidatiously, nervously, across the country and across our connected devices, for what feels like one long, interminable slog.

Not all of this is new. Sure, no one was live-tweeting the

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