SARAH BUITENDACH: Ray of light in a cesspool
In this article for last week’s FM, Toby Shapshak described YouTube as “the cesspool of the internet”.
His commentary of the behemoth went on to say: “People who still believe the Earth is flat have a platform on the video-sharing site, given the number of conspiracy videos there. These are the same people who seem to believe the moon landings were fake and 5G causes the coronavirus.”
It’s probably not the next big slogan its owner, Google, has cued up for the brand – but it did make me laugh, and think about the weird things you find curled up in the furthest reaches of the world wide web.
Tucked in between the proliferation of mad and bad are blitzes of magic; things so amusing or delightful or heart-warming that they make the whole dodgy net seem momentarily palatable. Even YouTube.
One such winner, in the category of “this has made me laugh all the way through Covid”, is this video from the Fleming family. Their home movie, of an attempt to catch a bat in their kitchen a few years ago, has been doing the rounds again. And it is comedy gold: I defy you not to start saying “He’s makin’ a mockery of you!” in an attempted Irish accent once you’ve watched it a couple of times.
Then there are the YouTube twins: 22-year-old Indiana-based hip hop-loving Fred and Tim Williams, who recorded themselves listening to classic songs for the first time. This genre of “reaction” videos is a big thing, but these two youngsters have become the poster kids for the movement. I’ve been watching them for months, lured in by their maiden playing of Dolly Parton’s Jolene.
You can see the attraction. There is an unmitigated magic to hearing a musical work of art for the first time, and seeing the twins do so – especially if it’s a tune you love – comes a close second. Last week I caught their reaction to The Fugees’ 1996 version of Killing Me Softly. Watching them react with surprise and pleasure to the beat dropping in the 36th second of the song brought me unimaginable joy.
As my sister put it: “These two are the best thing to come out of the pandemic. We must protect them at all costs.”
This lovely article from The New York Times explains the psychology behind their success. And how the echo chamber of music services like Apple Music and Spotify actually prevents us from expanding our horizons in what we listen to.
Closer to home, South Africans have the Jerusalema phenomenon. There’s an endless stream of local and international clips of people dancing to Master KG’s next-level gospel hit. Here’s a nice round-up from The South African website.
The clips of SA’s medical and service staff taking a few minutes out of their coronavirus-plagued day and night jobs to bust a move are grand to watch too. Who doesn’t love them? Well, SA’s resident Grinch, Herman Mashaba, apparently.
On Twitter, in reaction to the Joburg emergency management services’ (EMS’) version of the dance, Mashaba commented: “This is the second clip I have seen in this week from a different municipality. Countries train their law enforcement agencies to protect their citizens, we train them to dance. What on earth is happening?”
It’s called finding a small moment in the workday to manifest joy and decompress, Herms – and given the EMS’ job descriptions, I’d imagine they really don’t get a lot of either of those things. Might I suggest you watch the videos I’ve recommended here, and try it out yourself.
And lest we forget, he who casts the first stone should probably spend less time on Twitter and do some actual work himself …
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