Annie Fox's Blog...

Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

#16: Inauguration Day Part 3 – 1.8 million new best friends

January 23, 2009

Everything you need to enjoy the Inauguration.. a hat, a visitor's map, and a chocolate bar

Everything you need to enjoy the Inauguration... souvenir hat, visitor's map, and a chocolate bar

Of course we came for the main event: To witness the Swearing In Ceremony of Barack Obama and to hear his Inaugural Address (part 1 and part 2). But if that was all, we could have stayed home, had a much better view, and a great bathroom right down the hall. But we were after something more.

I’m not sure I can even describe what I mean except to say that I wanted to feel the love. Sounds cheesy, I know. Maybe I should delete those last two words and not risk damaging my hard earned tough-guy image. But nope, I’m letting them stand because it’s the truth.  I wanted to be with all those people who also came to feel the tsunami of love that washed over the National Mall on January 21, 2009. Just having that one thing in common transformed 1.8 million strangers into old friends. 

In the 12 foot radius around us people from South Carolina joked with people from Indiana. People from Maryland sang and boogied with people from Minnesota. People from everywhere grinned knowingly at one another as if to say, “How cool is this?!” During our three and a half hours packed together like ice cubes in a tray, we cheerfully shared the basics of human survival– food, space, and chemical warmth. (The ones for our hands worked way better than the ones we stuffed in our shoes.)

When the ceremony was over,  I trudged away thinking, if we could so easily create an instant sense of community out of a bunch of strangers (with the bonding and the trust that goes with it), what’s keeping us from being more cooperative all the time, especially with people we know really well? What  could you do to get along better with your own family? With your friends? With the kids in your class? This is what “Out of many, one” really means.

Maybe you’re thinking… “Yeah, sure. I’d like to feel closer to the people I live with and the people I hang out with.” Everyone would. But we don’t often take the first step in that direction. When I hold back it’s usually because I’m afraid I might get laughed at, or ignored or rejected in some other way. That’s my excuse for not putting my friendliest self forward. What’s yours? C’mon… let’s be honest. Post your comments.

This image provided by GeoEye Satellite Image shows Washington D.C.'s National Mall and the United States Capitol (top), in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009 taken at 11:19AM EDT during the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The image, taken through high, wispy white clouds, shows the masses of people between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. (AP Photo/GeoEye Satellite Image)

This image provided by GeoEye Satellite Image shows Washington D.C.'s National Mall and the United States Capitol (top), in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009 taken at 11:19AM EDT during the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The image, taken through high, wispy white clouds, shows the masses of people between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. (AP Photo/GeoEye Satellite Image). Click photo for a larger version (and so you can see where we were).

11:30 AM, Michelle Obama arrives at the Inauguration

11:30 AM, Michelle Obama arrives at the Inauguration

Photographing Michelle's arrival

Photographing Michelle's arrival

Patiently waiting for the big event

Patiently waiting for the big event

Shaking a chemical hand warmer to activate it

Shaking a chemical hand warmer to activate it

11:39 AM Photographing more arrivals

11:39 AM Photographing more arrivals

11:43 AM Washington Monument in the background

11:43 AM Washington Monument in the background

Finally, the Oath of Office, "So help me God"

Finally, the Oath of Office, "So help me God"

Lots of cheering and picture taking!

Lots of cheering and picture taking!

Cheering continues

Cheering continues

Cheering continues

Cheering continues

Cheering continues

Cheering continues

Hugs, tears, smiles

Hugs, tears, smiles

P.S. Adventures in DC continue next week with blogs about: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, and our car accident! Stay tuned.

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2 Comments »

  1. My two cents? I think the age of technology has made the world re-act in two second sound bites, instant messages and anonymous texting. FaceBook and MySpace have replaced the “good neighbor fence” way of connecting with friends. How shallow to have 258 friends (or if you are a teen, 1000’s!) that you’ve never met. Where is the shaking of hands, the hugs, or looking a friend in the eye with love or concern. What happened to actually sitting in a coffee shop and talking? None of these blips and beeps on the blogs! No more emails or texting! People rush about their lives so fast that they think the only way to connect is with FaceBook, texting, or thinking everyone is interested in reading their blog than hearing about it in person. No disrespect to Annie Fox – her blog is for a REAL purpose.. I have friends who basically post their whole daily diary on their FaceBook… Sheesh! Pick up a real phone and talk with someone for a couple hours… see how they are doing! Sad but true, I tried to make friends with a woman where we both felt a true connection. After TWO years of trying to meet her for lunch, breakfast, coffee, she was busy. Her dog was sick. It was raining… so many excuses I gave up. And I still run into her and she still tells me we need to get together. I am such a good listener that people I thought could be friends dumped all their misery on me, without listening to my problems. Which by the way, dealing with two terminally ill parents is worse than deciding whose house to go to for the holidays! But would they listen to me? NO! Some people are so starved for attention or a chance to talk that they lost the ability to LISTEN. I know that I had given up trying to make friends years ago. Until I suffered a few more crises that brought me to my knees. And I felt like I had no one to call, nowhere to go. Pure chance I knew a couple women in a boat similar to mine so I called (my two angels) and they propped me up. One of them realized how much was missing from her life… so she started a women’s group within which we all hope to find a way to bound. And not with any particular commonality bringing us together other than we all felt isolated and lonely. Now I feel like I have 8 new best friends. And they aren’t on FaceBook!! WooHoo, BFF 4ever!

    Comment by Linda — February 16, 2009 @ 12:35 pm

  2. I was wondering the same thing, Annie. I make it a point to talk to everyone within a 5ft radius – at the supermarket, in line, in an elevator, a waiting room. People are a lot friendlier than we think. Social constructs and rules make us feel safer, I guess, and prevent us from talking to just anyone. But my son is diagnosed with autism. It’s life-changing. I don’t take social connection for granted anymore. I look forward to all kinds of connections, even Facebook.

    Comment by Brenda (mamabegood) — January 23, 2011 @ 11:21 am

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