At this point, odds are high that you know, at least in passing, about the latest viral video sweeping social media: Candace Payne, a mother from Texas, putting on a Chewbacca mask and laughing hysterically in her car by herself—I mean, hysterically. If you’re not familiar, take four minutes and treat yourself.
These days, viral videos are a dime a dozen, and that’s putting it mildly. You can easily search the Internet for whatever your specific video weakness may be—inspirational reunions of animal and owner, kids saying the darnedest things, recipes made in a flash—and find pages upon pages of results. The list goes on and on (and on).
But all of those videos tend to come with baggage, whether in the form of killjoys reminding you in the comments of other issues plaguing society that are more important than spinach-artichoke dip in a bread bowl, or naysayers telling you that laughing at this comedian is wrong because he said this problematic thing five years ago, or the knowledge that half of these videos are staged and forced.
We find ourselves in a 2016 that is obsessed with highlighting the differences between us as individuals, whether they be racial, social, political, economic, or anything in between. A self-made time in history that is set on outlining our differences and positioning us into groups around them—and then pitting those groups against each other. Outrage and fury flow through us all like lifeblood.
But this video of Candace experiencing pure, unadulterated joy as she puts on her mask and scream-laughs her way into our hearts solely revolves around a thing that unites us: laughter. You can’t watch this video and NOT laugh. She’s instantly charming from the video’s first frame, and once she gets that mask on and lets loose, it’s just this side of impossible to keep from joining her.
She surely didn’t think this video would blow up like it has—the video has been viewed over 53 MILLION TIMES as I write this—but Candace Payne is the viral-video star we need in mid-2016: Someone who reminds us that there still is joy in this broken, messed-up world, where checking social media every morning can so often be a cringe-worthy affair. It’s so easy to get weighed down by all the fury we’re supposed to feel all the time, and the fear, and the pity.
But this video is not at anyone’s expense. It’s not deriving joy from someone else being put down or mocked. It doesn’t hinge on any grand commentary or require you to really have any foreknowledge whatsoever. It’s just one woman who is beyond excited about a small purchase and wanted to share her laughter, and how her joy spread like wildfire across an internet community that is thirsty for something—anything—pure and good.
Never underestimate the power of unbridled joy. It’s beyond infectious. I, too, am such a happy Chewbacca because she put this video on the internet webs. More power to you, Candace—keep us laughing.