Home Behind the Scenes The Chewbacca Principle (and what it means for travellers and life in general)

The Chewbacca Principle (and what it means for travellers and life in general)

by Silke Elzner

Two things happened on the internet this weekend that I would like to look at a bit closer.

The first event is a record-breaking Facebook live video that got everyone talking. The second was a more personal experience that one of my friends lived through on social media.

Let’s talk about the first one first, since it’s the obvious one anyway and you already know where I am going with this.

Let’s talk about the woman with the Chewbacca mask. Facebook reported that the little low-key video about a Chewbacca mask that this American woman bought at Khol’s was the first viral Facebook live video ever. It’s irritating in its simplicity: Someone buys something silly in a shop, tests it out in front of the camera and breaks into a non-stop giggle loop that is so infectious the audience can’t help but laugh as well.

It’s about a woman who bought herself a present for her birthday. Something that is stupid and irrelevant but that makes her happy in the moment.

I have to admit that when I first watched the video I was not really won over. As much as I was happy for the lady and her happiness, I couldn’t quite see the reason why my husband was so smitten with the clip.

And I was expecting the worst when I first looked at the video. This lady, lovely though as she is, is no superstar. She is not the usual selfie person. She is unpretentious and appears as if she is not giving a heck in the world about what her audience might think of her. In fact, she is engaging and talking to the camera as if it was her best friend, without fear, without acting, and quite frankly with a truck load of ammunition ready to be fired upon her by strangers all around the world.

And this is the other thing that happened on the internet over the weekend. A blogger friend had to read through a number of nasty comments on a piece that she had written for a big company, and it wasn’t pretty. The internet is a brutal place, and as a content creator you have to have a thick skin.

Which makes it so much more puzzling and surprising when you look at the video of the lady with the Chewbacca mask. Did she cop criticism, ridicule and sexist comments? Of course she did. But she also got a lot of positive feedback. By the looks of it she got incredibly more love than hate.

People appear to love the little clip of the cheerful lady with the silly mask for two reasons.

Firstly, they love her because she is showing so much joy and happiness with the littlest of things. A silly mask that makes a sound, bought at your local retailer for a couple of bucks. It proves that happiness doesn’t come from spending big money. It proves that happiness can be found in the most inauspicious things. And that happiness is a very personal experience: what makes you happy does not necessarily need to make others happy.

And this takes me to my second point. This lady is in total control over her own happiness in the moment. It’s enviable. She bought the mask for herself, it is her own birthday gift to herself. It proves that you don’t need to wait for good things to happen to you. In fact it is you who needs to take over control and direct all the happiness you can find to yourself. No point being at the receiving end of an endless conga line of birthday presents that will only make you half as happy as you would like. All you need to do is gift yourself.

These are two very important lessons. Find happiness in the littlest things, and be in control over your own happiness.

What this means for travel is that there is no reason for you to wait for good things to happen to you. If you can find your happiness in travel then just do it. If you cannot afford to travel in big style, do it in a budget way. Don’t wait for friends to join you, go by yourself and make friends on the road. But most of all: don’t wait.

My mother dropped dead when she was only 60 years old, just like her father. I am 38 years now which means that I have already crossed the zenith of my life unless I have somehow inherited better genes than my mother. I am not willing to wait for better times to come, for the kids to grow older and more mature, for the endless annual leave that is retirement.

And I am not going to let the experience be spoilt by others. As I told my friend who was having a terrible moment of weakness over the hateful social media comments on her blog post, haters gonna hate. Don’t let them control you. You are responsible for your own happiness.

So let’s just all don our silly Chewbacca masks and have a good old belly laugh. Because life is short and we deserve some happiness along the way.