I did not get the Chewbacca mask video. I realize this says nothing good about me.

The lady in the video was funny. And seemed happy. She made a joke about her weight, which always pains me for women.  But still, try as I might, I have not been able to wrap my brain around the why of it. Why we were all watching it and why did we all feel the need to share it? A day after it was released, there was one pervasive assessment:

We loved this video because it reminded us of joy! Everything on the internet is so depressing!


Is that accurate? Are we experiencing actual joy when we watch this video? Is everything on the internet depressing? My experience of the internet has been at least 72% baby elephant videos and a solid 2% is brownie mix recipes.

So I have spent the past few days feeling like the world’s worst joy experiencer. And I don’t know why I’m drawing this cultural line in the sand by writing about it. But, I didn’t watch the video and laugh whole heartedly. Maybe I have a high standard for humor? I need at least a Jimmy Fallon lip-sync battle, and would prefer a clip from the Mindy Project? A lady making jokes in a Kohl’s parking lot just didn’t translate for me.

But I am not certain that this is just about taste. I think whole phenomenon is more complicated than that. I just wonder and worry about what exactly it is that we are all looking to the internet for? Her video would have been so much funnier to me if I had known her and been friends with her. Who are the children she keeps referencing? What has her struggle with body image been like? Has she made me finally watch Star Wars?

The video reminded me of stories my friends in high school used to tell one another late at night gathered around kitchen tables. It reminded me of the way my mom and I laugh together. The video made me think of the way my husband and I vacation with our closest friends simply so we can stay up late drinking cheap wine and telling one another funny stories about our kids. So the video reminded me of joy. But it was not joy in any real way.

I cannot say that I have ever experienced real joy from the internet. And, to be honest, I do not think I am a psychopathic weirdo. Real joy is not found staring at a screen. Trust me, I have caught glances of my face when I am looking at my phone. At best, I look like I am being taken off of oxygen, at worst I look really anxious. But I never look joyful. Because I am not really in communication with anyone but a perceived version of myself and others.


The internet does not smell or whine. It does not have personal problems. The internet has places where we can say whatever we want with little to no fallout. It may make you laugh. If you watch enough videos about sad things, the internet will make you cry. But it is a way to experience life without ever having to risk your self-imagined personhood. It is a wonderful way to feel connected to people if you never want to actually deal with them. But it is not a path to real joy.

Honestly, I think many of us enjoyed the Chewbacca mask video lady because she reminded us of what it is like to laugh loudly with a friend. And so many of us, too many of us, neglect those moments. We are too busy and too tired to know anyone anymore. And I sometimes wonder if we have the internet to blame for that as well.

Occasionally, I have met people who find all of their resources for Christianity on the internet. They read sites like this one and choose not to attend church. Often they have told me that their church options are not great. And I believe them. Church is risky. The pastor could say anything. And the people, THE PEOPLE, they are just so people-y. Frankly, there are many Sundays that I would rather read Mockingbird’s Another Week Ends at the Waffle House and head home for a nap in lieu of actual interaction. And so, to be clear,  I am not interested in shaming those people anymore than I am interested in being a cultural contrarian about a funny video a mom made in a parking lot.

But I do wonder what they, what we, are missing out on. Friends are so complex. They come with back stories and quirks and coffee dates. Churchgoing Christians are so messy. They have all of these opinions and sins they fail to see. And God knows, churches are full of that nonsense. And yet, we worship this Ancient-of-Days kind of God, who just keeps bumping into us and compelling us to bump into one another. We worship the God who could have lead us solely from above, but chose to love us down here, in person.

Christian or not, there is something intensely beautiful beyond our computer screens and closed doors. There is authentic joy and endless laughter. The kind that we know only from loving people. And from knowing them up close.

“Why do we marry, why take friends and lovers? Why give ourselves to music, painting, chemistry or cooking? Out of simple delight in the resident goodness of creation, of course; but out of more than that, too. Half earth’s gorgeousness lies hidden in the glimpsed city it longs to become.” – Robert Farrar Capon, The Super of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection