For those who don’t know, one of my favourite podcasts is My Brother, My Brother, and Me, run by the McElroy brothers. The McElroys have a long and wonderful list of podcasts – my absolute favourite, which I will listen to over and over until the day I die, is The Adventure Zone – but Mbmbam was their first. It’s an advice podcast but they mainly use the questions they receive as improv comedy prompts. It’s delightful.
Now, every year the McElroy brothers come up with a theme for the next 12 months. Past themes have included: Gettin’ It in Twenty-Doz (2012), Twenty-Grift-Teen: The Con is On (2015), and Twenty-Fix-Teen: Building Bridges (2016). These themes are meant to act as a guide for their listeners – though they make it pretty clear that they are not experts and their advice should never be followed!
This year’s theme came out of a wonderful conversation they had during one of the last episodes of the year, ‘Horses in the Drift’, when they discovered that horses can pull a shit-tonne more weight when they work together – up to three times their usual. It gets even better when they realise that, with horses, drift compatibility is also a factor.
JUSTIN: Two horses that have worked together for a long time –
JUSTINL: Pals, like, long time collaborators can pull – actually pull 32,000 pounds!
GRIFFIN: What the fuck?!
The excitement and delight in their hearts was palpable.
In the end, they took the drift-compatible horses as inspiration for 2018’s theme: ‘Collaborateen: stronger together’.
Justin suggested ‘Slate-clean’, but it was pointed out that this theme might allow even the worst people to clean their slates and start over. Given the amount of garbage that floated to the surface last year in the wake of the #MeToo movement, the idea of people getting a blank slate is a bit troubling. Plus, as Griffin also notes, the last few years should be a learning experience.
GRIFFIN: I don’t want anybody to start over. I don’t want anybody to start over. That’s the sentiment – that might have carried us into 2017, where we were like, ‘Boy, 2016 sucked. 2017, slate’s clean, let’s do this thing!’ And then 2017 was like a dump and it dumped all over, and then it was like, ‘Wow, I wish I hadn’t had a clean slate. I wish I’d had some of my experience points left over from the previous year to help, you know, bolster me going into this new game plus.’ 2018, we’re a little bit wiser. Now we know. (from ‘Two Thousand and Late-Teen‘)
Travis floated the idea that they could use ‘Mount up’ as their theme, taking into account that people are tougher and perhaps a little bit jaded after all the shit that they’ve been through and are now ready for a fight. In the end, though, they settled on Collaborateen.
In case it isn’t obvious, I actually really love this. I love the idea that people are stronger together (the horses thing blew my mind too) and that we should be helping each other and learning from each other instead of perpetuating the ‘Every man for himself’ mentality that seems to have been in vogue over the last few years. The best thing about people is that we have such an incredible capacity for empathy.
We’re not the only animals that have empathy, but we’re the only ones with such an active effect over the planet. We’re the only ones who have empathy and can do serious damage when we don’t use it.
Dolphins don’t have nuclear buttons on their desks. Dogs don’t dump trash in the oceans.
Humans do both of these things, probably because we’re having a little bit of trouble connecting with others – we have the capacity for empathy but we’re choosing not to use it.
To be clear, it’s NOT TECHNOLOGY’S FAULT. It’s not the Millenials’ fault either. People were dicks to each other long before the internet was a thing. What technology has done is allowed us to see more of the pain in the world. It has allowed us to tweet the worst crimes against humanity the moment that they are happening, it has allowed us to share our thoughts on current events and enter a dialogue with each other. It has allowed us to connect with people on the other side of the country, the ocean, or the world.
We’ve never been in a better position, as a species, to collaborate. There has never been a better infrastructure for sharing ideas, for supporting each other, or guiding each other through bad times. Yes, there is a lot of awful and there will always be people who use their platforms to spread hate. But just because someone else is being hateful doesn’t mean that we should be too, or that we should be silent.
Collaborateen: stronger together.