As someone who sorts through internet content for a living, many of my normal human responses have been deadened. Shame, horror, and the more pleasant side effects of emotional manipulation, like joy, are all gone now. However, this short animated video by artists Kirsten Lepore somehow got under my callouses.
We all like to think we’re invulnerable to anything pedestrian enough to go viral, but for viral content, “Hi Stranger” is pretty weird. A nude creature with no nose is gently happy to see you. They appreciate creating, being alive, taking in the sunset. They love the shape of your face and will draw it for no one to see but themselves. They know how hard you’re working and how you need to just be kind to yourself once in awhile. They love you. Falling hook line and sinker for this three-minute inspirational video says more about me than I want it to, but I watched it a dozen times and then asked my coworkers what they thought.
They professed some strong opinions, like “I hate this nude butt-strong monster” and “Is the Hi Stranger guy supposed to be a douchebag?” This shook my faith in Hi Stranger’s message for sure, and I remembered that anything that tries so hard to make me feel good is probably bad. I bet Hi Stranger secretly voted for Donald Trump. The internet is full of chum and it’s my job to feed to it to the sharks not dive in the bucket!
Then I thought: What would Hi Stranger’s protagonist want you to do right now? They’d want you to ask the internet to tell you how to feel. Please vote about how I should feel about Hi Stranger below.