I like liking things.

I find joy in life’s ordinary pleasures. For instance, I love parting the curtains in the morning to find sun-dappled trees and birds flitting from branch to branch. I savor the steam emanating from a cup of hot chocolate and the whipped-cream mustache after the first sip.

I also delight in the mountain top moments like traveling the world with my partner, learning to swim, and seeing work samples of my documentary film come together.

I enjoy frivolous things like a new release from one of my favorite retailers. Like-minded souls from around the world gather on social media to dissect the sneak peeks and plan our purchases.

The Fascination of Fandom

Fandom fascinates me.

A Shakespeare professor friend started a YouTube channel devoted to his favorite Japanese metal band. He and fellow fans discuss the existential meaning of song lyrics and their fondness for Japanese culture.

I once toured Highclere Castle, the setting of TV’s Downton Abbey. A group of British women dressed in 1920s attire brightened the tour by noting where specific scenes in episodes were filmed.

Every year, just as we finally managed to get the summer sand brushed from our sandals, another friend counts down to the day when pumpkin spice lattes will be available at her local Starbucks.

Haters Gonna Hate

A chorus of naysayers, however, have risen up in recent years to tell us that liking things is wrong

These are the creatures who pop up in social media comments to proclaim that what you like is pathetic. Or it’s the “well-meaning” relative who advises you not to spend money on the thing that makes you happy and to save it for a “rainy day” as if it hasn’t been a torrential downpour for the past two years.

Their voices are becoming increasingly louder and shriller in the face of cynicism, technology, and generalized anxiety arising from the global pandemic.

Algorithms decide the products we view, the opinions with which we agree, and the friends we follow. Social media allows anyone to say what they like, whenever they like, and to whomever they like without consequence.

The Courage of Joy

What brought us joy now brings us shame because people are offloading their fear, anger, and anxiety instead of tenderly investigating their feelings with the aid of a professional.

Other people’s trauma, however, is not our burden to bear. It’s okay to like things.

It takes courage to find joy in a world that crowns cynicism as king and joy a fool. Excavating and sharing your joy means that despite everything that has happened your heart remains open. You choose to gaze at the world with love when it’s throbbing with pain.

“Haters are gonna hate,” as the meme goes. The next time someone tries to devour your joy or shame you for liking things, allow your joy to hover over them and find something excruciatingly beautiful about them to like.

Kerra Bolton is a writer and filmmaker based in the Mexican Caribbean. In a former life, she was a political columnist; Director of Communications, Outreach, and Oppositional Research for the North Carolina Democratic Party; and founder of a boutique strategic communications firm.

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