A few nights ago, for the first time ever, I brought my five-year old daughter to assist me at a trivia game I was hosting. She was there because we didn’t have a babysitter. She stood on stage with me, helped me set up, and also cleaned out the box of supplies I keep with me.
When the game started, she danced to the music that I played. There was probably about 85 to 90 people in the restaurant. At one point, she stood next to me, late in the game, and I made a joke. The joke was a self-depreciating joke about me. I use self-depreciating humor to make people laugh and have a good time. But she’s five and didn’t know what they were laughing at. She incorrectly assumed that everybody was laughing at her. She thought that I had made fun of her. She started crying, ran to the back of the stage, hid in a corner, and sobbed for the rest of the game.
I felt crushed. Even though I had not done anything wrong, the mere thought that I had hurt my daughter in that way made me feel awful. After the game was over, she started to understand what had happened and that I had not made fun of her. And the joy started coming back into her life. She was happy for the ride home.
A thought then occurred to me. It made me realize that it’s never okay to poke fun at something that somebody enjoys doing. She danced literally every song for 16 straight songs. The people in the crowd noticed and thought it was cute. But nobody pointed anything out to her or said anything. She was on the stage, and they were playing trivia. She was not bothering them. They were not bothering her.
I get online this week, and I realize that there are people making fun of other people for playing the new Pokemon game. Now, I know very little about Pokemon. I’ve never played Pokemon. I know some of the characters just because of them being in the mainstream areas of my life, but I don’t know very much about it at all. But I have seen people making fun of other people playing Pokemon.
Why are we doing that? What is it giving us? What is it accomplishing? Why are we taking something that somebody enjoys, that frankly doesn’t bother anybody else, and make fun of people for it?
With shame I must admit that I am just as guilty as anybody else. I’ve made fun of people for really liking professional wrestling. I have made fun of people for live-action role play. I’ve made fun of people for being extremely geeky about stuff, or having tattoos. And as I watched my five-year-old cry her eyes out because she had thought I had made fun of her, it was a big lesson that I don’t need to do that.
Now, am I’m going to be perfect overnight no? But I do think we need to stand back and realize that when we are actually harming society by telling people that they should not enjoy their hobbies. Especially when these hobbies do not infringe on anyone else.
Hobbies, games, and having fun in general, stoke the creative flames inside of all of us. And with all of the problems in our world that need solutions, we need as many creative fires burning inside of us as we can possibly get.
Do people occasionally take hobbies to unhealthy extremes? Yes. But that’s not the situation I’m talking about here.
We need to remind ourselves as a society when something comes out as a fad, we shouldn’t really make fun of people who do it. If they’re getting enjoyment out of it and they’re doing it responsibly, then let them. Nobody understands all the things that I do and I’m not going to understand all the things everybody else does. But if we sat back and we just let people enjoy this short period that they have on Earth called life, I have a feeling they might also be better producers and leaders.
Go catch ’em all.