Friday, July 29, 2016

More than words

I don’t usually post songs on Facebook, but recently I felt like it. I wanted to post a link to the ballad “More than Words” by the American rock band Extreme. I don’t know what suddenly motivated me to do this. I guess it’s because the song did something magical to me. It brought me back to my late twenties, with new love and friendship in the air and the thrill of a brand new future to throw myself at. It was as if I could start all over again. I wanted others to enjoy this wonderful feeling too.

So I searched the track on YouTube. It turned up along with a list of other hits on the right side of the screen, you know this list of “other videos that you may like too”. When I looked at the list, my mouth fell open. I liked every single song on the list about as much as “More than Words”! It felt horrible. Because the intense personal and warm feeling about this song suddenly looked like a superficial, cold internet statistic. The song turned out to be just a dot in a YouTube algorithm that told me exactly what people like me, who are born in 1973, usually like on a melancholic Sunday afternoon in early 2016. So posting the song made no longer sense. It felt like connecting a YouTube algorithm to a Facebook algorithm and let those two do the job of talking about me. It felt like an “empty” gesture and I felt not needed for that at all.

Don’t get me wrong: of course it’s not an empty or bad thing to post a song on Facebook. Because it’s still you who posts it and not YouTube, Facebook, Deezer, Google or whatever. And whatever you post, say or do, it’s always both a unique, personal initiative and an impersonal statistic at the same time.

So maybe I should have posted “More than Words” anyway. I could have offered a unique moment of nostalgia to friends from the 70s or the opportunity to discover a ‘cool old song’ to people from the 90s. I think I will actually. But I’ll add a comment about what the song does to me to differentiate it from a search engine hit. Just to make it more personal. Because YouTube and Facebook can’t do that. At least not in early 2016.

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