It is striking to realize how strongly our memories of love and loss are tied into songs and music.
I remember driving down the 5 Freeway with my two cousins the day after our uncle had been killed from dating violence. We had all taken the day off of school and, though told not to by our parents, had been checking the news stories online to scrape together any extra information about the murder. Sitting in a slightly numb silence, the song “Not Ready to Make Nice” came on the radio as we sat in traffic, and from the front seat my cousin began to cry. Five years later, this song will randomly rotate onto my iPod playlist while I’m running, bringing me back to that car ride where I watched my cousin’s numbness recede into pain.
Capturing memories that are shared in YouTube comments when we are triggered by songs and video has become the foundation and force behind the the Tumblr “Sad YouTube.” The project was started by Canadian filmmaker Mark Slutsky, who explains:
“I’ve always been fascinated by the much-maligned medium of expression known as the YouTube comment. Among the usual hate speech and Obama conspiracy theories, you can find these amazing nuggets of humanity—heartbreaking moments from people’s lives recalled by an old favourite song, stories of love and loss, perfectly crystallized moments of nostalgia and saudade, all of which would be lost forever if it weren’t for YouTube’s easy, mostly anonymous commenting system.”
While YouTube comments can easily become lost, Sad YouTube collects these rare, valuable moments of vulnerability, nostalgia and happiness to archive on their site. From the memories of nights dancing in the safety of a gay club to falling in love, these comments put a personal touch to the anonymous gray silhouette of the YouTube box. The novelty of “Sad YouTube” allows users to share the personal and defining moments of their lives that create an invisible thread of connection that spans geographical and generational differences.