The Niagara Falls Review
Happy together: Are we feeling the love in the Falls?
Niagara Falls — who knew we were so happy? Or so frisky? What gave it away? Was it all the bundled up faces enduring the worst winter in years? Was it our unbridled joy every time the new unemployment stats come out (“We’re #1!”)? Maybe it’s this byelection, bringing us all closer as a community with nothing but kind words and open hearts.
Whatever the reason, we’re among the happiest and most romantic cities in Canada. It must be true, because the Internet says so.
Two separate lists released this week give us the big thumbs up. Which means more publicity, which is really all we care about. If it means a few more tourists, we’ll declare ourselves the Flatulence Capital of Canada. Any challengers?
But upon closer inspection, these lists are a bit … shall we say, undercooked.
If you’re going to pander to us, at least put some effort into it.
According to an app called Jetpac City Guides, Niagara Falls ranks as the 20th-happiest place in Canada. We’re behind such chipper cities as Calgary, Gatineau, Que. and top-ranked Kingston, but at least we beat Niagara-on-the-Lake (maybe the Shaw should do happier plays).
I’d like to say this list is the result of market analysis and professional research but, um, no.
What Jetpac did was process more than 100 million Instagram pics, counted the smiles, then tallied up the score for each city in Canada. Just to prove they’re serious, officials measured the size of each smile, meaning grins don’t count as much. Man, where to start? For one thing, how many times do you see a tourist pose his family in front of Niagara Falls and say “Everybody, don’t smile!” It’s forced happiness! That kid in the Spongebob shirt doesn’t really want to smile, he’s only doing it because dad said so. Does that make us ‘happier’ than Whistler (No. 21) or Toronto (No. 23)?
And what of the non-smiling pictures? I might take a pic of my girlfriend who is perfectly content, even if she isn’t smiling. Does that mean she isn’t happy? Is she not a team player?
What if someone took a photo of me at the exact moment my co-worker Ray spills coffee on himself? Ray’s scalding pain makes me smile, but should that count?
Without context to these smiles, how do we gauge happiness? For all we know, the happiest place in Canada is some settlement in the Yukon where no one owns a camera.
It gets better. According to Amazon.ca, we’re also the thirdmost romantic city in Canada. Now was this the result of in-depth studies and statistical scrutiny? Once again, no.
Amazon compiled the list by adding all the romance novels, romantic CDs and sappy movies people bought in each city (from Amazon, of course). So for every Michael Buble CD you bought, our city got more romantic.
Who is Amazon to tell me what’s romantic? Maybe Metallica’s Master of Puppets is my most romantic album because it reminds me of a first date, or our first concert?
Maybe Pulp Fiction is our most romantic movie because it was part of a special evening 20 years ago? Maybe that Michael Buble CD I bought was just a birthday gift for my mom?
If people in Niagara Falls buy more Luther Vandross CDs than usual, are we any more or less romantic than we were last year? We didn’t even make the list last year.
The worst part isn’t that we’re on it, it’s that we’re No. 3. Excuse me, we’re NIAGARA FALLS. Home of the heart-shaped tubs. The Honeymoon Capital.
Who’s more romantic than us? Apparently, Victoria. B.C. and Winnipeg, Man.
Victoria, I can live with. It’s warm, hip, close to the ocean. But Winnipeg? Really?
For answers, I went to the only two people I know who’ve lived in ‘the ‘Peg’ and in Niagara Falls.
Local activist Mike Garrett, whose tweets during this byelection are a must-read, says Winnipeg is “a great city for romance, being that for many months of the year its famous chill draws couples together and they creatively look for ways to spend time together.” He also points to the city’s amazing restaurants.
Daria Zmiyiwsky, the Review’s former ad manager and now publisher of the Winnipeg Sun, points to “the vast beauty of whiteness … blankets of snow remind lovers of being under fluffy white duvets. And the length of cold winters warms the heart — couples stay warm with each other’s body heat.”
Fancy restaurants? White duvets? Are those more romantic than your date wetting his/her pants at Nightmares? Spending Valentine’s Day at the blackjack table? The erotic aroma of waffle cones?
We’re Niagara Falls, and we don’t need a list to tell us how happy, romantic, grumpy, dysfunctional or weird we are. Now leave us alone, the fireworks are starting.