The Importance of Things that Don’t Matter

Today is #WhyILoveMuseums day.

Simple concept. On Twitter, you post something you love about museums, and tag it #WhyILoveMuseums. Well over 3,000 people have done so (3,297 was the last tally, but that was several hours ago, and it looks like tweets have been continuing to come steadily since then.)

People can read the tweets, and add their own, and it becomes a movement that sweeps the world, protects funding, increases visits, and gets your windows crystal clear.

That sentence makes it seem like I’m so cynical about it, but that’s not completely true. I’m actually of two minds.

Yes, cynicism is one of them. I’m not sure precisely what the stated goal of this whole thing is, but is anything going to come out of it? Not directly. No museum-hater is likely to be swayed by seeing one or a thousand of these tweets, and no non-donor will be inspired to write a check, and no budget-slashing politician will decide that museums need a big boost in federal aid.

So if that’s the expectation, then it will fail.

But that’s not the only value that actions can have. I see #WhyILoveMuseums more as a morale-booster, a rally-the-troops event.

And that does matter. There is value in feeling good about what you do and what you support. And while good feelings aren’t measurable, they can lead to things that are. They help you to do something right when cutting corners is an option, or to chase an opportunity that would also require a lot of additional work, or to fight for something when backing down is an option.

#WhyILoveMuseums is probably not single-handedly going to do anything, but it is one part of a universe of acts that, taken together, might. Viewed in that light, I would consider it a success.

Just don’t expect it to be something it’s not.

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