The 3 Types of Fun (and Why There Should Be a 4th)


I was riding back from a fast food restaurant earlier this week with a young group of engineers and their manager. The manager, who had invited all of us, was talking about a recent trip where she had gone mountain biking with her son. She had been terrified of the descent down a mountain, had fallen numerous times in the process, was aching and sore when she finished, but was surprised to find that she still felt that it was a great experience. 

One of the engineers said, “Oh, that’s Type 2 fun.”

Type 2 Fun? someone asked. 

“Yeah,” said the engineer. “Type 1 fun is when you have a great time while you’re doing it. It’s like when you’re hanging out with friends, or playing a game, or something like that.”

"And, Type 2?"

“Type 2 fun is when it’s tough when it is happening, but you feel good about it when it’s done. Like exercise.”

“Or white-water rafting,” said someone else. 

“Or visiting family.”

“Or, international travel,” I said. “During the trip, you are nearly always jet-lagged and afraid you’re going to get lost, but afterward it seems like so much fun.”

“Yeah, that works.”

“Are there any other Fun Types?”

“Type 3 is when it’s not fun when it’s happening and isn’t fun in retrospect either.”

“Like going to work!”

“Hey!” said the manager.

“Or visiting family!”

I thought for a moment. “Shouldn’t there also be a fourth type of fun, where it is fun when it was happening but then turned out to be a bad idea?”

The engineer shrugged. “I only know of three Types.”

Later that day, during a lull in my work, I checked online and saw that yes, there are really only 3 Fun Types. However, I really think there should be Four because so many decisions I’ve made in my life have had short-term pleasure followed by long-term regrets. Like day drinking - it always sounds fun but it never (ever) ends well. 

Or late night texting with an Ex. 

Or that final slice of pizza. 

Or “I’m just going to check out pictures of Helen’s new baby” followed by an hour-long social media death spiral. 

Or cocaine.  

I can imagine just being able to use a future shorthand when someone asks me "How was the dinner party with the new boss?" 

"Type 4 Fun."

"Oh, no. I'm so sorry." 

"Yeah, we really shouldn't have served the shrimp.” 

So, stand with me my friends as we make a new type of fun. Type 4 Fun.