Soto: Viral videos should inspire us all to be more kind

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Soto: Viral videos should inspire us all to be more kind

Isabella Soto, Columnist

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On Feb. 15, the day after the world’s most popular holiday surrounding love, the Internet received what could very well be its most well-intentioned, validating and loving meme to date.

The video, which was posted on Twitter, is simple: Josh Holz, cell phone in hand, follows around his friend Daniel Lara and films giving Lara compliments for Snapchat. The compilation of videos showcases Holz’s flattery, but Lara’s style and his immaculate white vans are always the center of attention. Soon, the hashtag #DamnDaniel arose and the video cemented itself as a new cultural reference.

The video has racked up over 300,000 retweets and over 400,000 likes, as well as countless shares on other social media sites. Although it might at first seem trivial, dead on arrival and bound to be quickly reposted and repurposed to exhaustion, perhaps we shouldn’t expect it to disappear. We should make a conscious effort to help the people around us and in our lives feel like Daniel every day.

As a community full of diverse students with different styles and appearances, we should attempt to be more vocal with compliments. The idea is simple: If you see someone you personally find to be stylish, beautiful, or remarkable and feel comfortable in expressing it to them, let the person know. It could change their day, and it could change yours too.

I personally attempt to compliment frequently and validate those around me, especially in the winter when one can feel isolated and affected by the weather. Even when the wind is whipping and people are shrouded in scarves and wearing clunky snow boots, if someone’s makeup looks amazing or you love the colors in a person’s hair, take time and let them know.

There’s something about the viral nature of kindness. Sure, countless clips of people falling off  bicycles or belly-flopping into swimming pools go viral, but some of the most remarkable viral videos have been centered around happiness, kindness and validation. Take President Obama’s recent meeting with Virginia McLaurin, a 106-year-old woman. After a video campaign to meet President Obama went viral in 2014, her dream came true when she was invited to the White House to celebrate Black History Month. President Obama and Michelle Obama welcomed her, a smile lighting up her face as she danced with joy. I lost track of how many times the video was shared on Facebook, Twitter and re-posted by news outlets like The New York Times.

These videos are propelled to viral fame because of the nerve they tap when we view them. Of course we want to see an elderly woman gleeful and dancing in the White House, celebrating our black president. Of course we want to see videos of friends complimenting friends, especially when it involves a quirky voice. They put smiles on our faces, no matter how absurd or silly they are. These overwhelmingly positive videos allow us to feel happy. And, if a video of someone giving someone a compliment can go viral and evoke a sense of validation, then imagine what actually giving someone a simple little compliment can do.

Isabella Soto is a Medill freshman. She can be contacted at isabellasoto2019@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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