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Sea shanty singing is suddenly all the rage—and there's more than one reason why

As if we haven't had enough strange things happen this year (which we're only two weeks into, by the way), you may have noticed a sudden proliferation of sea shanty videos come through your social media feeds. While a welcome alternative to the footage of violent insurrection and rising pandemic death tolls in the U.S., the question is: Why sea shanties, and why now?

Though there's actually a wide range of sea shanty communities online, what brought it into the mainstream was a TikTok video from Scottish singer, Nathan Evans, pounding a drum and singing a well-known shanty, "The Wellerman."


Another singer, Luke Taylor, added some bass harmony to it, taking it up a significant notch.





Soon other sea shanty enthusiasts added harmony upon harmony, and the videos began being shared far and wide.

As of yesterday, a version of the song by a British folk band, The Longest Johns, was #2 on the U.S. Spotify viral chart and had reached #5 on the global chart the day before.

So why sea shanties and why now? There are some theories about that.

As this video from Going Off-Topic explains, a sea shanty was a work song sung by men who had to coordinate their movements while doing repetitive on a ship at sea. We've seen similar communal work singing or chanting among various groups, from the military to prison chain gangs. (But with sea shanties, you don't have the ominous underpinnings of war or the disturbing inhumanity of criminal justice to wade through in order to enjoy the rhythmic singing.)

Sea Shanty TikTok is TAKING OVER in 2021www.youtube.com

What might be behind the newfound obsession with sea shanties is the current moment we find ourselves in the communal nature of the singing, adding voice upon voice—and especially doing so virtually through TikTok. Finding a way to create such harmonies together strikes right at heart of the human connection we're desperately missing right now.

At the beginning of the pandemic, we talked a lot about how we were "all in this together," but the months since have shown us that no, actually, we're not all in this together. Some of us are still denying we're in it at all, and that loss of a shared vision and purpose—which were always vital for us to avoid the disaster we're in, losing 4,000 Americans a day—is painful. These harmonies feel like a healing balm of sorts for that societal wound. They also fill a void we all feel in being distanced from our friends, family, and community.

As science journalist Leigh Cowart points out, "behavioral synchrony feels really, really good to humans and many of us have been social distancing for months and deprived of this."

For further proof of how much we need this proof of community in harmony, please try to watch this video of 500 people singing a shanty together and not get teared up:

If that's a little too much mushy emotion for you, the nature of these work songs may also reflect the feeling of the "seemingly endless, labor-filled test" of our resolve that pandemic living has forced us into, as Dan Sheehan points out. We're all heaving and hoeing just to make it through the day at this point.

They're also just...fun to sing. And catchy. The repetition of the chorus throughout makes it easy for anyone to join in and add their own unique voice to the mix. Watch this guy slowly get won over:

Who knows how long the sea shanty trend will last, or what creative lengths it will go to. After all, we've already hit electro-shanty territory, which I guarantee nobody saw coming a few months ago.

Maybe we'll end up with an entirely new genre of music when all is said and done. There are definitely worse things that could come out of a year of pandemic misery than a harmonious reminder of community and creativity.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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via Pixabay

Giving a high-five to a kid who needs one.

John Rosemond, a 74-year-old columnist and family psychologist, has folks up in arms after he wrote a column about why he never gives children high-fives. The article, “Living With Children: You shouldn't high-five a child” was published on the Omaha World-Herald’s website on October 2.

The post reads like a verse from the “Get Off My Lawn” bible and posits that one should only share a high-five with someone who is one's equal.

"I will not slap the upraised palm of a person who is not my peer, and a peer is someone over age 21, emancipated, employed and paying their own way," the columnist wrote. "The high-five is NOT appropriate between doctor and patient, judge and defendant, POTUS and a person not old enough to vote (POTUS and anyone, for that matter), employer and employee, parent and child, grandparent and grandchild."

Does he ask to see a paystub before he high-fives adults?

“Respect for adults is important to a child’s character development, and the high-five is not compatible with respect,” he continues. “It is to be reserved for individuals of equal, or fairly equal, status.”

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She's enjoying the big benefits of some simple life hacks.

James Clear’s landmark book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide. The book is incredibly popular because it has a simple message that can help everyone. We can develop habits that increase our productivity and success by making small changes to our daily routines.

"It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis,” James Clear writes. “It is only when looking back 2 or 5 or 10 years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.”

His work proves that we don’t need to move mountains to improve ourselves, just get 1% better every day.

Most of us are reluctant to change because breaking old habits and starting new ones can be hard. However, there are a lot of incredibly easy habits we can develop that can add up to monumental changes.

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