A couple years ago, there was this video that spread through the internet like wildfire—and y’all have probably seen it. It was this mom in her minivan wearing a Chewbacca mask, the kind that would make the sound every time she opened her mouth. And she was absolutely tickled to death by it, and could not stop laughing as she was trying to explain how she was got this mask on a whim. People loved it. She even ended up on the Ellen Degeneres Show.
Going viral is something that can happen in the age of the internet. And there are some people who work really hard to actually do that—go viral. They want people to see their post and share it widely. They want to be seen and known. They want the exposure that will help them make their mark on the world. But despite the editorials and talking heads complaining about how “this generation” is so vain to do that, let’s not forget that wanting to be remembered, and doing crazy things to do it, has been part of our human story forever.
What was the best day in your whole life? Think back to a time when you had just the best day, where the feeling you got was so incredibly good that you would go back to that day in a heartbeat just to experience it again. We occasionally get those really awesome moments, when we feel like the whole world is lined up exactly as it should be, and we’re truly, completely happy.
I got that feeling the first time Hazel ever fell asleep on me. It was at the hospital; she was barely a day old yet. We’d read that early skin-to-skin contact with both parents promotes some kind of good development in babies, so I was giving it a try while Annie took a much-deserved rest. And Hazel’s warm little body was so sweetly pressed up against me, and she had a stuffy nose from all the birth fluids, so she snored like a tiny old man. The nurse came in to give us some kind of instructions, but I definitely have no recollection of what she said because I was completely lost in that moment.
Last week, people across the country were shocked to hear the news about the death of Kobe Bryant. It was one of those moments where people from all different stripes were united in shock and grief. He was extremely widely known—even I knew who Kobe was, and I don’t keep up with sports. There was an outpouring of mourning, people naming how he’d captured imaginations, people lifting up prayers for his family.
And then there was another reaction that came about. I started seeing it on Facebook that many people were taking the opportunity to name people who weren’t recognized by the news who had experienced tragedy. Names of people who weren’t famous but were no less tragic of losses. Now, we should never shame people for who they grieve. But the very widespread and unified grief around Kobe has shown up in other famous people as well—David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Robin Williams, Prince, and others. Society has a way of showing who is considered important.