The Law of Conservation of Silliness

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I would like to propose the Law of Conservation of Silliness.

I do not do this lightly because I take silliness quite seriously. Be it wild cosplay or wacky humor, strange crossover fanfictions or subtle jokes, nonsense is something I appreciate. My history of watching B-movies testifies to that appreciation.

Humans need silliness, you see, much the way we need play – perhaps both needs are the same. We need that space to let our minds flow free in seemingly foolish directions, both to laugh but also to discover. We need to be silly to relax, to take a moment to not be serious in an oft-serious world, else we lose something. Any of us know the sheer power of giggling at something so foolish it might just be profound – and how we might find profundity.

When we can be silly, we also take ourselves less seriously. The world, in my opinion, needs that – and always had.

Thus we need silliness, humor, strangeness in our lives. So what happens if we do not get it? In modern times we can indeed observe that when denied, the silly side of people comes out in strange and dangerous ways.

We all know the people who take themselves too seriously. The uptight and the self-righteous, the judgemental and the hateful. We know people without joy or laughter except, perhaps at the expense of others. When they imagine, they only seem to imagine dark things and make equally dark plans against their imagined phantoms.

Thus these unsilly people build elaborate webs of hatred and conspiracy to fight. Never satisfied because they cannot enjoy, they cannot be silly, they spin silly-looking beliefs of a world against them. Their lack of silliness and humor means they turn that talent to making lists of the tiniest hatreds and elaborate conspiracy theories to explain their own pettiness.

If you do not experience silliness, then it will come out in dark ways. We use that silly side of us to make the world worse when we cannot enjoy it.

One merely has to look at elaborate conspiracy theories being spun on the internet. They are oft silly and dumb in a way that would be funny if people didn’t believe in them. Very serious people – too serious – spend time creating such illusions and making everyone else miserable.

I submit that if such people could relax, laugh, be foolish and wild, they wouldn’t spin ridiculous tales they take too seriously.

Thus the Law of Conservation of Silliness: If we are not allowed to enjoy silliness, we will turn it into believing and doing foolish but awful things.

Do I take this law seriously?

Well, there’s a good question. It does seem a bit silly, doesn’t it? But perhaps a dumb law is the best thing to explain a dark tendency of people.

Steven Savage

In Silicon Valley, The Line Between Humor And Reality Is Thin

That App Was a Joke . . .  now it’s not.

I work in Silicon Valley, and trust me there’s a lot of weird stuff here.  That’s part of the charm.  We get fish curry tacos, monuments to water towers, and people who make apps that were originally jokes – like those mentioned in this article.  Yeah, you laugh at iPoo . . .

There’s many ways to look at this phenomena, but I’d actually like to add a different point of view – the insane stuff that becomes all to real is a good thing:

It reminds us that there is a market for almost anything.

It’s a demonstration of how fast something can be developed.

It’s a reminder that you CAN make it with a seemingly crazy idea.

It’s a reminder there’s still a lot of VC sloshing around.

It’s a celebration of the pure crazy that we can produce – and that means even if some of this crazy is, well, stupid, we can make the good kind too.

So let’s not decry iPoo, or the infamous Wesley Crusher sex novel, or any of this other stuff too easily.  Let’s remember right now that we have the tools, technology, and often cash to go completely bugnutz in our technology, media, and more.

Now that you remember that, let’s go make it happen, because if someone can seriously discuss Tacocopter . . . .

– Steven Savage
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach for professional and potentially professional geeks, fans, and otaku. He can be reached at


Signs You’re a Progeek

Ways you know you're a progeek:

  • When you hear about economic "megaregions" you think of MegaCity One from Judge Dredd or Hive Worlds from Warhammer 40,000.
  • You scan Monday Through Friday for ideas you can actually use on the job.
  • When you get news about things like the Thundercat revival, your first reaction is excitement, but your second reaction is always to ask what it means for you and your career.
  • When you see the Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver, you think how useful it'd be for setting up a computer.  Bonus geek points if you make the Sonic Screwdriver noise when no one can hear you.
  • You are excellent at Spreadsheets partially due to your commitment to professionalism, partially for using them to crunch gaming stats.
  • Whenever you hear about economic news in a major city, you can name the major conventions of that city, major game companies, and/or major authors/artists that live in that area.
  • Whenever your favorite comic is made into a film you can discuss its demographic appeal after you finish your victory fist pump.
  • You are able to discuss the evolution of the MMO, and who ripped who off, without using obscenities unless you want to.
  • You're able to estimate the costs of your cosplay group's next outfit in your head because it's just like your department's budget.
  • No matter the crew, no matter the starship, you see their relationships as an org chart.
  • You make lists like this and send them to your co-workers.

Steven Savage