“Tomorrow is Saturday, and Sunday comes afterwards.” No, these are not the lyrics to a Sesame Street original. These enlightening words emerge from the YouTube music video sensation, “Friday”, which many have labeled “The Worst Song Ever.”
Rebecca Black, a cheerful, composed and winsome 13-year-old performs the song, written by Patrice Wilson, founder of Ark Music Factory, a studio that assists young talent to pursue their musical dreams. With the $2,000 to $4,000 fee, Ark provides an original song, studio time, musical video, photo shoot and promotion. Wilson stipulates that his clients must dedicate themselves to music, not to fame.
“Friday” began to attract notice very quickly, but not for the reasons Black would have liked. The views on YouTube topped 97 million only two months after it was uploaded. Although “Friday” is a long way from Justin Bieber’s number one video, “Baby,” at 500 million views, it surpassed “Baby” as the most disliked video on YouTube, attracting over 1.9 million dislikes. “Baby” was uploaded in February of 2010.
Comments range from critical, “terrible song, terrible voice, horrible lyrics and horrendous video,” to hostile, “WORST song ever. the first time i heard this song i frantically looked for a gun to shoot myself..worst part this girl lives in my hometown..she should move. cannot stand this song,” to hateful, “I hope you cut yourself,” and “I hope you go cut and die.” In an interview with ABC’s Andrea Canning, Black admitted that the comments really hurt at first. Now she smiles and says that they really don’t bother her any more.
Most people agree that listening to the lyrics is like wading in the kiddie pool. And the melody rarely displays much variety, sometimes stuck on the same note like a scratched vinyl recording. The song fails to showcase the young singer’s voice, which is really quite pleasant. All of this hardly warrants the caustic and cruel attacks Black has received.
One has to wonder about a cyber community that invites and facilitates acrimonious speech. The anonymity of those who comment plays to the dark side of human nature. Meanness does not require accountability. One can make unpleasant and painful comments without being confronted, except by another anonymous comment. This provides the darkness where sinful behavior loves to hide.
Even when people do not remain anonymous, cyberspace fosters a pseudo sense of security. Typing to a computer screen mimics private thoughts, masking the relational nature of the comments. People demonstrate a kind of courage to say things they would never say to a person’s face, with little attention to the potential damage of the hurtful comments. Cyber bullying captured media attention when it was linked to several suicides.
This phenomenon has roots in the practice of gossip. This form of sinful speech disseminates information about a person to other people without that person’s permission. It usually chooses more lurid or shocking facts that would damage a person’s reputation. The comments are not directed to the subject of the gossip, but to someone else, creating that same false sense of security that cyber space offers. Gossip has the same effect as cyber comments, but not the same scope.
So why do humans feel the need to post nasty comments, cyber bully or gossip? Reasons might include jealousy, envy, insecurity, low self-esteem, pride and dozens of other character flaws. In the final analysis, they demonstrate a lack of love and kindness.
This does not mean truthful comments that might be hurtful should never be posted. The internet creates a forum for the free exchange of ideas and wrong ideas need correction. But love would not allow correction to occur at the expense of the person. In truth, correction should be done for the benefit of the person.
Paul advised that truth should be spoken in the context of love (Ephesians 4:15). If love monitors the communication of truth, consideration for the needs of the person will direct and control every comment. If the truth might bring pain, it would be expressed only if the pain is necessary for the person, like a surgeon’s scalpel that produces pain to save a life. Conveying that truth with no regard for the person, his feelings, his reputation, his family, his sense of worth or identity, wields truth more like a soldier’s bayonet that only injures.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
The internet does not create incivility. It only reveals it. And incivility exposes hearts where the damaged and absorbed self has displaced love.