Restore Your Faith in Humanity at the Nicest Place on the Internet
You catch glimpses of sunny parks, busy street corners and various home dwellings as smiling faces step up to offer friendly hugs and a lullaby voice sings lightly. Sound nice? It is. And you might be surprised to learn that it exists, of all places, on the Internet.
“It doesn’t ask any questions,” explains Jeff Lam, one of the creators behind the nicest place on the Internet. “It doesn’t want to know why you’re sad or why you need a hug. I think that’s the nice thing about it.”
Lam and his co-creator Lauren Perlow had the idea for the site after a rough day at their ad agency jobs. They spent that weekend collecting about 30 video hugs from the streets of San Francisco — a process that strangers were surprisingly willing to participate in — and posted the site in November. About 300,000 people have visited it since.
Some of those visitors have contributed their own hugs to the project. There are about 200 on the site, which is the most videos Lam and Perlow can put on its YouTube playlist. They get about 10 new video hug submissions a day. And miraculously, all of them have been nice. Lam says there hasn’t been a negative comment yet.
“When we uploaded the videos onto YouTube, we thought we should disable the comments because we don’t want people to write mean things,” he says. “But we forgot to turn off the comments. A couple of days later we realized, but it was quite the opposite. People couldn’t say a bad thing about it.”
As someone who regularly reads about cyber-bullying and is required to attach an open comment thread to everything I produce during the weekday, I tend to think of the anonymous Internet as a terrible, soulless place. But the nicest place on the Internet has leveraged that same anonymity for an eloquent group hug. It’s an oddly comforting project.