Why We Love Matt

Thank you for your reactions to the “Where the Hell is Matt?” video. Doesn’t it make you want to get out there and visit every place he’s been, and maybe even dance with a bunch of strangers? Why does this video make us happy?

The first few times I watched one of Matt’s videos, I got choked up — a bizarre reaction to a YouTube video of a stranger doing a silly dance for 4.5 minutes, but an honest one.  Granted, I have my sappy moments, but I admit how this video affects me because I know for a fact that it has a similar effect on others. I am just trying to understand why.

I’ve realized that, on a most basic level, this video makes people feel happy because the people in the video are happy. They are dancing — a universal symbol of joy and celebration — and they are dancing in GORGEOUS settings, which reminds us of all the beauty in the world, how much there is to appreciate, and how much remains to be explored. At the same time, it’s about people coming together despite differences. We love coming together! The Olympics, the World Cup, whatever the event there is something we find very inspiring and wonderful about people from all over the world sharing a moment, an experience, a dance.

While wordless, Matt communicates something very simple: we are all the same. When we drop all the political hupla, we are left with a beautiful world, fascinating people, amazing architecture, and a bunch of awful dance moves. Dancing is about being free, being expressive, and letting the walls that hold us in fall down. It makes us vulnerable, and while each person’s moves are unique, dancing is a collective experience that can be shared. Most of what makes us different is on the outside — our environments, histories, languages — but when you take away the backdrop, we’re all just a bunch of goofy dancers who want to understand each other. Sometimes words just get in the way.

The video is like a more modern, less cheesy, less forced version of “We are the World.” And the truth is, I probably just ruined it, because the whole point is that it’s not about a discussion, about digging for meaning or truth. It’s about a guy named Matt who does a silly dance in every beautiful and odd place he visits with anyone who cares to join in, and it is that simplicity that connects us, gets us dancing together, and makes us happy.

Part of traveling is about connecting with people who are different, and dancing with them. The “Where the Hell is Matt?” videos basically sum up why I love it.

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