Tonight, I chose to head to Caje, a coffee shop in Isla Vista, CA, to finish up some applications for scholarships for the coming year. About an hour after I started working, I checked my email and noticed an alert from Washington Post (which I subscribe to) about a speech President Obama would be making. Soon after, around 9 p.m., I saw the results of the speech, which were displayed in an email, title simply stating:
Breaking News: Obama confirms that Osama bin Laden has been killed
I read the email and got excited about the situation, and updated my Facebook status about it with a little play on words to let other people know what was going on. Meanwhile, my Facebook home page was going nuts. Everyone was updating their information with news about Osama’s death.
Around me in Caje, I could see people’s computer screens switch from work to news articles, videos of Obama, and Facebook updates. Some of my friends were sitting at the table next to me, so we started discussing the validity of the statement, the meaning of Osama’s death and if it actually made a difference on terrorism or if he was just a figurehead for blame for the 9/11 attacks. We contemplated the socioeconomic effects of such a reaction-provoking death after so many years of American searching. Caje was buzzing.
My ex-boyfriend sent me a video of the song that goes “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye” by the band Steam, saying that people were gathering outside of the White House, singing that song and celebrating. What an uproar this news had created! But that was just D.C., not here in Isla Vista.
Less than two hours later, I saw and heard a good-sized crowd of people marching past Caje down Embarcadero Del Norte and chanting USA, USA, USA! and waving a big American flag on a pole. It didn’t look like ROTC or military people either, just everyday normal UCSB students.
At first I heard the chanting from inside the cafe, and I got up out of my seat to see what was happening. Many other people looked around nervously or excitedly, and I felt as if I was witnessing something dually exciting and slightly terrifying. I’m not usually expecting to see huge displays of patriotism in my everyday life, due to the ambivalence I see in many other people my age here.
I got up, walked over to the entrance, and took a picture while watching. They continued down the street, and were gone. Every single head was turned in their direction, watching.
I definitely feel a little shocked. America may be huge, but the Internet and television have really made it a lot smaller. News travels fast these days.