This post will take a different format than what you will usually see in Viewing Out. This week, I released a parody music video called “The Likes” on YouTube. I thought it would be a good idea to give some commentary on how this video came about. In doing so, I’ll also expand on a subject that affects almost everyone in U.S. culture – social media, especially Facebook. First, here is the video:
And now, to give some commentary, I’ll answer questions that I anticipate people would ask about this video:
Why did I take the time to make this video?
I have decided that I want my free time to be filled with significance, rather than filled with typical time-wasting activities such as watching TV. About ten months ago, I started to think about the abilities that God has given me, and how I can use my free time to either enhance or use those abilities. One of those abilities involves creativity. I seem to have the ability to create things like songs and videos, and I enjoy the process of coming up with ideas for those things.
I calculated how much free time I had in a typical week, and designated that time out to different categories based around my abilities. I designated a small amount of time to “creativity”, since I didn’t think that area was as important as others. It was still enough time to work piece by piece on a big project.
The idea for “The Likes” started to develop in January 2014. Since I didn’t devote a lot of time to creative projects, I did not finish the entire process (writing lyrics, recording music, shooting the video, and editing) until December 2014.
Where did the idea come from?
The idea simply came to me after a hockey game in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I was walking with my friend Diego, and I don’t even remember what we were talking about. But a thought suddenly came into my head. I expressed the thought out loud: “The likes… I live for all the likes!”
The thought had potential to turn into a great song idea, and I couldn’t let that potential pass by. That night, after watching an Indiana Jones movie, I wrote most of the lyrics to the song. I was up until 1:30am doing it, but it was worth it.
The idea didn’t just pop out of nowhere though. The idea was the result of a buildup… years of me reflecting on the attitude that I had towards Facebook and other social media sites. And that point leads into my next question:
How were the lyrics determined?
The lyrics revolve around 2 concepts:
- A summary of my personal attitude about using Facebook
- A turn away from the obsession caused by that attitude
The majority of the lyrics involve the first concept. To explain this concept, I’ll comment on a few lines from the song:
I could have fame if only an idea, pulled out of the air
Could convince all of you to click on either like or share
These lyrics are sung during the opening scene. In that scene, the bottom half shows me looking stressed out because I’m trying to think of something. The top half is supposed to represent my thoughts, which reveal that I am thinking about a status to post on Facebook. My motivation for the status is clear; I am trying to get attention, to gain popularity.
That motivation leads me when it comes to writing on Facebook. I desire the attention of others, and as a result will try to think of something to post that people will respond to.
One minute for results is just way too long to wait
I hope you are online so, I know my next status is great
This is the section that related to me the most. Whenever I post a status, I will have this hope that many people will be online to see the status. If more people respond to the status, I’ll feel more of a sense of approval for what I posted. I’ll even get impatient, wanting people to respond to the post right away.
Also, there have been times when I have wanted to impress a specific person with what I posted. I would hope the person was on Facebook so they could see that post, and would get a sense of satisfaction if they did “like” the post.
The song changes directions (literally) after the group dance:
Now all that time I wasted is out the door now
Tryin’ to get those notifications
These lyrics are pretty self-explanatory. An obsession with Facebook leads to a significant amount of time being used on it. There are various motivations for spending time on Facebook, but my primary motivation has been to “try to get those notifications”. And I have spent a lot of time trying.
Time to get off now
Spend time with others and have fun
I had a hard time deciding on the lyrics for the second line. The question I wanted to answer was – “What can you be spending your time doing rather than Facebook?”
My main answer to that question was to pursue a particular purpose in life, which in my view is to glorify God. However, since the tone of the video is more comedic than anything, it didn’t seem fitting to switch that tone to something more serious and deep right at the end of the song. So I decided to refer to spending time with others, which is undoubtedly an important aspect of life.
So is my attitude towards Facebook really a bad thing?
I want to use this question to clarify my position about Facebook. I don’t think it is inherently bad, or needs to be avoided completely. There are plenty of benefits to using Facebook, such as being able to connect with friends over long distances.
However, using Facebook can lead to an obsession which I would classify as “bad”. It creates a social environment that attracts people, partly because of the ability to gain approval. It is also accepted in U.S. culture, and is used frequently by that culture. These factors create the potential for an obsession where you dedicate a significant amount of your time and thoughts to Facebook. In other words, Facebook can take control of you.
Many other things can take control of you as well, as I have discussed before. But Facebook is a strong candidate for this control, since it capitalizes on one of the things that people seek most – social acceptance.
My desire for this social acceptance is strong, but can never seem to be fulfilled by Facebook. No matter how many likes I get on my posts, I never get a full sense of the approval that I’m seeking.
If the attitudes that I have towards Facebook lead me to the point of obsession, I will be constantly chasing after a sense of approval that I will never capture. That is the point where my attitude towards Facebook turns into a bad thing.