I love the internet. I love having a question and then getting to answer it as soon as I reach a computer (which these days means as soon as I ask a friend to get out their phone. I’m the only one on the planet still without a smartphone). I love getting to stream videos and subscribe to stuff like Amazon Prime and Netflix instead of having to hunt through Blockbuster. I love writing this blog. But my absolute favorite thing is all the happy people.
Interesting writing tends to dwell a lot on the sad moments of life. I think there are some good reasons for this. One is that tragedy provides room for conflict and change, which are interesting to read about. It’s harder to use joy in the same way. Also, I think there is a greater need to reflect on the sad moments in life than the happy ones. We either need to understand why they happened and how to avoid them, or we need to relive them to numb ourselves to their sting. As a result, it’s a lot easier to write a thousand words on sadness than on happiness.
But as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and there’s nothing like the internet for happy pictures. And happy music, free of charge. Or even just people being cheerful dorks on their vlogs.
I was reminded of this yesterday when the dance video competition at When You Work At a Museum kicked off. I got a little bit of a real-life peek at the happiness here; my best friend RJ works on the Historic Ships at Baltimore (obligatory plug; please vote for their video!). I got to hear all the making-of stories and watch RJ put the video together. There’s no prize at stake for winning the competition. It isn’t an educational endeavor (although, serious props the Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology for sneaking a little engineering physics into “What Does the Pump Say?”) or part of a promotion. It’s just an excuse for people to dance at work and then display their dorkery for the whole world to see. And that’s a beautiful thing.
I’m an Epicurean. I think the ultimate point of life is simply to enjoy it. In common language the word epicurean has evolved to mean focused on luxury or self-indulgence, which I don’t think is the point of life. I think those things are half-pleasures, things that fill up but don’t satisfy. In the classic sense of Epicureanism, the real pleasures are to be found in community, not objects. There’s no point in eating caviar and canapes alone if eating mac and cheese with your best friend would make you happier, and doesn’t it always? Isn’t joy shared doubled? That’s the beauty of the internet. I don’t have to meet you to share in the joy of that time you built an enormous sand castle, or welcomed your baby brother home. I still care that you, person who I will never see again, had a really happy moment. I’m really happy you chose to share it. It’s like being handed your second-hand blanket that has already been worn down just to it’s ideal level of fuzziness. I love that people at the Historic Ships in Baltimore got to pause their ordinary work day and dance. I love how that experience isn’t confined to their museum, but shared by people from Canada to Singapore. I love that yesterday’s pairs of videos got 12,742 votes, which means literally thousands of people get to share in the fun. And I hope you go take a look and enjoy them, because I enjoy sharing the fun.