[Note to audience: According to Wikipedia, citizens of ancient Rome used to wave their toga flaps to express approval for public performances. In the style of the Golden Globes, the Golden Raspberries, the Golden Goggles, and other alchemical plaudits, the Golden Toga Flap will be a regular feature on IWtSLtY that affirms people working to improve the world. Anyone is eligible: A-list actors, small children, teachers in rural Illinois, frat guys behind me in line at Grocery Outlet. I’m not writing these blurbs for any sort of commission; I just want to spread the word about great people doing lovely things. If you have nominations for the Golden Toga Flap, please feel free to leave them in the comments or send me a private message.]
What do you get when you combine a nauseating number of Peeps, a blenderized Happy Meal, fourteen straight hours in Target, and discussions of the American health care system?
Besides something that shouldn’t be brought up at corporate networking events. That’s a given.
Put it on YouTube, though, and it’s social media gold — funny, riveting, and surprisingly deep, especially when the Green brothers deliver it. Although the Vlogbrothers channel began in 2007, it didn’t cross my radar until February 2013, when my friend walked into my house, put her laptop in front of me, and said, “Watch this.” “This” was the episode in which John cooks dinner with his three-year-old son and discusses the political implications of celery sans peanut butter. When it was over, I knew that this was something I had to get on board with, so I started getting up to speed on the discussions, the punishments, and DFTBA. Since that introduction, the Green brothers and their supporting cast have taught me so much about world history, sexuality, epistemology, relationships, the importance of passion and collaboration, entrepreneurship, linguistics, social media, literature, statistics, economic disparity, and the mating habits of giraffes.
In retrospect, the Vlogbrothers channel couldn’t have come into my life at a better time — I was going through a breakup and rapidly approaching college graduation, with a jobless summer lurking on the horizon like the Black Gate of Mordor. At that point, John and Hank’s calm, reassuring humor was exactly what I needed to get me thinking about something bigger than myself.
So here’s to you, John Green, Hank Green, and all your collaborative partners, making the world more awesome first through the simple project of Brotherhood 2.0, which blossomed into Nerdfighteria and snowballed from there into too many projects, collaborations, and sponsorships to count: the Project for Awesome, the Foundation to Decrease World Suck, DFTBA Records, VidCon, SciShow, and Crash Course, to name just a few. Your commitment to your art, to your families, to your fans, to education, to underrepresented communities, and to the world at large is nothing short of beautiful. Wherever you go next, however you next choose to express your creative enthusiasms, I have no doubt that your actions will continue inspiring people of all ages to value each other, ask difficult questions, and never stop having fun.