“Hell is other people,” a line from existentialist philosopher and playwright Jean-Paul Sartre, is one of the most widely misunderstood quotes in use today, I recently read. Apparently, most take it to mean that other people are terrible to be around, so you shouldn’t be around them when it actually means something else.
I could’ve told you the true meaning of the line. So could anyone in this Thing of Ours. Other people are Hell—and, sadly, “other” includes loved ones, friends, and colleagues—because so many of them are downright gleeful to see courageous LDBCers go down in flames. They point the song out when you otherwise wouldn’t have noticed it playing in the background. They blast it on purpose, not realizing there’s a rule to prevent that very thing. They giggle when you get knocked out, not realizing that they, too, are out—even if they refuse to admit they’re playing. (We’re all playing, kids. It’s like gravity and breathing: not optional.)
And those are just the ones who are intentional about their treachery. There are so many others who are truly innocent in their playlists and caroling. In their dangerous TV and movie choices. In their out-of-the-blue humming and whistling.
In short, other people are not Hell. They are doom. Totally different.
There are heroes.
Husbands and brothers who text with a warning not to come into the store because they just got taken out, but it’s not too late for you. Wives and sisters who notice the song in the supermarket, and though they themselves went down, hold it together until you’re out in the parking lot, when they ask if you didn’t pick up on it. People like Thom Downing, Grace McIntosh, and Tatiana Orozco, who take the time to curate LDB-free holiday playlists.
Those are the ones to keep in your lives. The helpers. The allies. The kindred spirits. Those who link arms with us to say that there are no weak links. We stand together, and this time the line will hold.
And what must it hold against? I don’t need to tell you. A dozen years in, this most recent running was a game just as difficult as any other. Difficult enough, in fact, that a fellow warrior named Mindy Winn actually lost. (I’m not making that up.) Friends were slain, loved ones taken. But still we stand when all is done, resolute and unbroken.
The ordeal was fun as ever, too. I’m not the only one who thinks so.
“This is such an incredible project. I love Weird Data,” said Milo W., even though he lost. I heartily agree—and especially like the initial caps.
“How long have you been playing?” wrote Janee Aronoff, referring to one of the questions on the much-flogged form. “This is so much a part of me that I wouldn’t even dream of counting the years.”
Thanks, Janee. Seriously. I love that so many people have adopted this and look forward to it. Way back in 2010, the first year, I just wanted to see if I could get it going and, maybe, have something to put on my résumé to show I could do social-media content. Little did I know.
One of my favorite developments has been our annual support of Americares, and I’m so proud of the LDBCers who’ve been able to give and have seen fit to do so. I didn’t get it together to work with the Americares folks to come up with a custom link this year, so I can’t say for sure how much we raised, but between the three or so donation posts on Facebook, I think we’re knocking on about a thousand bucks. (And I’ll take this opportunity to put in one last call for donations. I’ll also thank those of you to those who’ve already given and those who are about to. If you’re not able to give or would prefer not to, that’s no problem. The game is the game, and the play is the thing.)
And with that, I’ll salute our first fallen for 2021, Erica Kolh, with one last, “For Erica!” and call it a year.
Hang in there, all. Enjoy the stats, graphs, LDBC-elfies, LDBC Wall, etc., below, and please stay safe. Take care of one another, and always try to be kind. That’s what keeps me doing this every holiday season.
Oh, and one more thing…
Puh-rum-pum-pum-pum, people.Continue reading