I spy something nice

A newsletter that will do the only thing I like online: share nice things.

She tells the story like this:

I was little (too little to remember, so the story version I have is the one that’s been told to me) and we were on a walk around our suburban neighborhood. She was pushing me in the stroller and we were playing “I spy.” If you were ever a kid you know how this game works. She’d say, “I spy something blue,” and I’d babble guesses: the pool, that mailbox, the sky, until I got it right. And then we’d switch and I’d spy something of a certain quality, and she’d guess back.

On one of my turns, I said, “I spy something nice.” (Do you feel where this is going? You’re probably right.) She guessed a list of things: a nearby house with a groomed yard, a dog walking on the other side of the road, the clouds, a particularly good tree, but couldn’t get it right. She gave up and asked me what the nice thing was and I looked up from my seat and said, “you, mommy!”

This is the earliest known example of me being a total cornball and absolute sap. My mom can’t tell the story without tearing up (I am slowly becoming this way, which would make me upset if it didn’t feel so good to be brought to tears by nice things). She tells it often but selectively; only to people she knows will enjoy it. The danger of sharing and pointing out nice things is that it’s a little bit vulnerable. If someone doesn’t like the thing with the fervor you want them to, the niceness of that thing may go down a notch. What feels worse than putting genuine excitement into the world, only for the world to respond with a fart noise, or worse, apathy? Maybe this is why it’s an online thing to preface sincerity with an EARNEST TWEET WARNING!!! or "a “sorry for the earnest tweet but.” Apologizing for feeling nice about something lessens the possibility that someone else will make you feel stupid for it, or, at the very least, preempts feeling dumb anyway.

I hate this!!! It’s been, hmm, at least a decade since I played a game of “I spy,” but I still love to point out nice things. I think mosts people probably do. Growing up, trying to be cool, and being on the internet a lot has distilled my urge to excitedly share things I like without qualifiers or irony, but I am taking measures to correct this. I think a lot about the joy I got from the salad days of Instagram, when my feed looked more like the pages of a high school yearbook than a magazine spread. Scrolling down the timeline was like a public game of “I spy” where every clue was “something nice.” I liked that so much.

I can’t change the internet, though, so here we are.

I don’t have much to add to newsletter culture (except maybe daily essays about Bobby Hill, a truly perfect TV character), but what I would like to do is share nice things. I’ll send this thing out once a week on Tuesdays—a nice day, in my opinion, to see something good. Here’s what each newsletter will include:

  • Something nice I saw (a photo)

  • Something nice I read (maybe a whole book, or an article, or a short story, or just one sentence or something)

  • Something nice I screenshot (a text from a friend or my mom, an occasional meme)

  • Something nice I learned (in the course of reporting a story or from just talking to people!!!!)

Sometimes the nice things will be presented without commentary, sometimes I’ll have lots of commentary. Maybe I’ll occasionally ask friends to write the newsletter for me, so you can see their nice things. But mostly you should expect for Something Nice to be wholesome, pure, and to make you feel good (just like Bobby Hill!!!).

If that sounds nice to you, please subscribe! If not, that’s OK. You don’t have to play this game of “I Spy,” no one’s making you.

In the mean time, tell your friends!