We’ve come a long way from “Friday Night Videos”

A new report says that youtube is the most popular social media site for kids. Even more popular than Facebook.

Over 3 billion videos are viewed every day on youtube
That’s a staggering statistic. Granted, youtube is full of non-music videos – we’ve all had someone tell us we just had to go watch the crazy video of a crying cat or the singing baby (or was it a singing cat and a crying baby?). But music is the most popular category on YouTube, accounting for 30.7% of all views on the video service. I did the math (I even Googled to make sure I got the right number of zeros): that’s 900 million music videos watched every day. No wonder M-is-for-music-MTV threw in the towel!

“We Found Love” found lots of opinions
A lot of you have shared your thoughts on the Rihanna video “We Found Love” that was included in a recent post. The discussion centered around whether or not it was appropriate for me to embed the video in the post. Both sides were represented (you can read the comments here), and I appreciate everyone weighing in.

But here’s what I’m afraid got missed in that conversation: whether you believe it’s appropriate to watch the video or not, the reality is your students are. As of this morning, the “We Found Love” video has been viewed 20,999,261 times on youtube.

So did you see what you really think you saw?
Here are my observations about the “We Found Love” video: Yes, it’s about sex and drugs. No, Rihanna isn’t wearing enough clothes. No, I don’t like watching it and I don’t think it glorifies God.

But here’s what I see when I watch the “We Found Love” video: A toxic, abusive relationship. Drugs. Alcohol. Hopelessness. Despair. Darkness. Four minutes of lies that this lifestyle might be “normal.”

And here’s why my eyes tear up when I watch the “We Found Love” video: Some of your students are living out the very same issues in this video. Or they know someone who is and don’t know how to respond. Too many teens watch videos like this and think “This is what the ‘real world’ is like.” I drive down streets in my neighborhood and see kids who are living this life (or are striving to because they see it glamorized by artists like Rihanna). And my heart hurts.

I don’t think it’s wise to throw the towel in on this
I agree that we must guard our  hearts and minds, but I don’t want to get caught up in a debate about the boundaries of what’s appropriate and what’s not and ignore the reality that this video (and hundreds of others like it) is out there. And kids are watching.

We can’t stop kids from seeing videos online. But we can teach them discernment. We can help them understand that it does matter what they watch. We can talk about what they are watching (which is why sometimes we have to watch and listen to things we wouldn’t normally see or hear). And we can introduce them to music and videos (and artists) who offer a God-centered perspective. Don’t give up, and don’t walk away from this fight. Your students need you.

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10 Responses to We’ve come a long way from “Friday Night Videos”

  1. Jeremy Culbertson says:

    You know what I think kids are connecting with so much on that video is the line that’s repeated over and over that “we found love in a hopeless place”… I think kids are so hopeful that they might have the chance to say that line or that it could apply to their situation.

  2. hiswaysrhigher says:

    Amen! Too many of us humans, parents & otherwise would just rather stick our head in the sand than face the reality that is screaming in our face. Keep pressing on as this is what needs to be heard!

  3. Tracey says:

    Thank you immensely for the work you all are doing. In the “thanks-for-posting-the-video-so-I-can-find-it” versus “I-can’t-believe-you-perpetuated-this-by-posting-it-here” debate, I find myself on the “thanks!” train, because I didn’t want to spend the time weeding through all the “tribute” clips to find what you are talking about. But I think that by getting bogged down in that debate, we did indeed stray from the meat of your article: WHAT ON EARTH ARE OUR YOUTH BEING EXPOSED TO?

    I applaud you for readdressing this and getting us back on track. You absolutely nailed it…our youth are moved to believe that the contents of this video are “real” life, the Holy Grail of what they are supposed to get to do when they are older. And it is such a shame that they are being duped in this manner. First, we all know it doesn’t go that way for the majority of mankind; secondly, for the ones that this DOES happen to, the results are far from glamorous. The despair resulting from that lifestyle is overwhelming, and isn’t it interesting how few videos there are to reflect the darker side of this path?

  4. Rick says:

    Good thought. That is why we press on!

  5. Pastor Rich says:

    My man, you nailed it! The video was aweful, but I found myself saying the same thing, “This is what our teens are being taught is normal?” God has called us to lead and teach and guide the teens of “our” world. We can’t just sit here and think of how inappropriate something is or isn’t. The world doesn’t care! We MUST care. Thanks for the insite and the article! God bless you and your ministry.

  6. David says:

    What you just said was exactly what I thought after making the decision to watch the video. Was I concerned for my own heart? Yes, before hand. After, I was much more concerned that what is shown in this video is protrayed and accepted as “normal” – hey, kids! If you are normal (like the rest of us) here’s what life looks like. Or to paraphrase the opening monologue – Life has lots of really bad stuff, but you might have some fun along the way, so the abuse, poverty and hopelessness is all worth it, as long as the sex and drugs are good – cuz that’s “love”. That’s the best I can hope for? Well shoot! I can hit that without trying very hard at all! Pass the beer!

  7. Elisa says:

    As a volunteer youth leader with my church youth group, while working full time in social services, I have faced much, if not all, of the situations/activities through some of the individuals I work with. Most of the time, the youth/children that I work with only truly ever accept anything I have to say by first showing them that I care. In their minds, I only truly care/love them if I know deeply what they have done and what has been done to them, and even knowing all the gritty, dirty details, still love and care about them as a unique and individual person. Loving them despite what they have done or the choices they have made, only then do they start really listening to what you have to say. While not condoning the actions, don’t let the actions shadow the belief I have in them as a uniquely special individual with a reason to be here. At least this has been my experience, less judging with more loving.

  8. Linda Granato says:

    Amen! Sometimes we really need to see what is going on! We need to keep ourselves centered in Christ so we can help our kids & friends get there too! Sometimes, alot of the times even, we need to know what they are going through by seeing/hearing/understanding what they are faced with. it’s just a fact. i’m thankful we have those willing to scope these things out for us.

  9. Chris Desgroseillier says:

    Thanks for following through after some rough criticism for the post. Stay with it. We need to be aware of the everyday hurdles that our young people experience. How can we help if we don’t have a clue what they are going through. How can we say that we care for them if we don’t care to know what they face everyday. It seems that people can get so wrapped up with what is happening inside the church that they forget that they need to be engaging the culture around them. Being missional has much to do with being informed with the surrounding culture and then entering it. We need to be in it but not of it. We can be afraid that we will get contaminated in some way, but that is not what Christ did. He didn’t watch from afar. He didn’t deny our reality. We need to remember that it is the light that displaces the darkness and not the other way around. Keep it coming!

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