Scotsman Ryan McHenry died Sunday after a two-year struggle with osteosarcoma. He was 27.
Some of you might not have heard of McHenry. But in the world of Vine, a YouTube-like social network that allows users to share six-second video clips, he was a star, best known for his “Ryan Gosling Won’t Eat His Cereal” series. Each clip features a super-serious Gosling glowering on a television screen as McHenry’s hand tries to entice him with a spoonful of breakfast grain. It never works. Gosling, it seems, has no interest in the mundanities of cereal.
On Tuesday, Gosling posted his own Vine video in a quirky but oddly touching tribute to the man who made fun of him for two years.
We can be critical of social media here at Plugged In. We’ve talked about how it can isolate us and make us jealous, how it can waste time and encourage only superficial friendships. But there’s more to it than that: If there wasn’t, we wouldn’t be on Facebook and Twitter ourselves.
Social networks can connect us in new, strange and sometimes wonderful ways. It blurs the lines between the creator and viewer, and even if the friendships fostered there can be superficial, they can be real, too.
Yes, social networks can feed our obsession with fame in this celebrity-soaked age, allowing us all to dream of online stardom. But it’s an equalizer, too. Through his Vines, Ryan McHenry tweaked Ryan Gosling’s celebrity, and in so doing became a celebrity himself. And when Ryan Gosling lifted his spoon to pay him tribute, he honored a fellow creator and a fellow man.
Psalm 103:13-16 says this:
The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.
Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
The wind blows, and we are gone—
as though we had never been here.
Vine may seem of very little consequence. But so, in a way, are we. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we have, our mortal lives are just tiny slivers of eternity. And it’s altogether fitting to raise a spoon in memoriam of those who have gone before.