I've written before that America's loneliness crisis is undertheorized. Sure, it's something to do with the internet, probably. Religion's role has faded, yeah. Sports seem less likely to get people onto the field. But people aren't talking about why. There's not a manual for How To Do Your Part.
I was recently looking into some new tools, and setting up some old ones on my new computer, and I think it taught me a lesson. And that lesson is: amazing tools, tools you could build a multi-billion dollar business on, are frequently so frustrating a normal person would never use them. I cannot overemphasize how true this is, even for computer programming, where, somewhat embarrassingly, all the ways someone makes the tool better are baked into their expertise and all the problems apparent to anyone doing their job.
I've kept thinking about when I heard there weren't communities for people seeking serious relationships. It almost doesn't seem possible – this is a huge segment of human life, it used to be literally every community outside of bowling clubs, and now it's hard to find. I think the issue is, in some part, caused by it being hard to know how to delight someone. Truly delighting someone is difficult.
Of course, I don't see why it should be. It used to be a fresh picked wildflower would be enough to set someone's day on the right path. Truthfully, I've never received a fresh picked wildflower, not that I can recall, although there are certainly a couple people that might have given that gift to me in my youth. But I think it truly would delight me. Heck, a fashionable friend of mine once said I looked nice that day and it was a pretty delightful moment. I'm pretty easy.
But not everyone is like me, and there's no way you'd know that whole bit was true anyway. You'd be unlikely to pick me out of a lineup and decide to delight me – and fixing the problem of delight laziness might be more important – but if you don't know how, that spirit would be worn out before put to work anyway.
So I've decided to have a delight page on the header, listing little ways to delight me. It's a bit of a challenge, because small surprises are always nice, but there are plenty of things you could warn me of in advance that I'd look forward to and be delighted by all the same.
I think this is an important missing piece in our current social contract – we need to be able to put temporary enthusiasms and appreciation to good work. Let's collaborate on making each other happy. I sure hope I can run a big surplus, but obviously that means I have to get a bunch of you to write up similar things too.
I don't think it's crazy to build a new rule of etiquette for this. If enough of you write these up too, we could even start having etiquette about where to find someone's delight-file.