Want to know why the Harlem Shake is so popular that a new version appears on Youtube more often than a new baby is born these days? (I didn’t fact check that, but I’m willing to stand by it.)
Because we’re ok with being average.
Look, I’m not judging anyone for creating a Harlem Shake video. In fact I just participated in my first one this weekend. I’m in the back somewhere. I promise.
But the Harlem Shake phenomenon encourages us to just be average. And being average sucks the life out of you.
The Harlem Shake is the perfect Youtube clip. It’s short. It’s goofy. And it’s incredibly easy to recreate, which is where the magic of it lies.
This trend has been building for a while, with large groups of people lip-dubbing and making their own music videos for fluffy pop songs like “Call Me Maybe”. But those videos often require major planning and editing.
The Harlem Shake videos require almost no originality or foresight. You can make a new one anytime you’re just hanging out with two or more friends. In the span of 30 minutes you could shoot, edit, and upload your video and be well on your way to thousands of views. The dream of the Youtube generation has been fully realized.
Because this seems to be what people are after these days – Youtube hits. So many teenagers that I talk to vocalize how cool it would be to star in the next big viral video. To have millions of people liking and sharing and laughing at your crazy antics.
In order to do this they don’t want to create something original or funny on their own. They want to recreate something funny they saw someone else do. They don’t understand this produces diminishing returns. Or, maybe, they don’t seem to care.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with recreating a funny video to share with your friends. Some of my favorite memories from high school and college are the videos my friends and I made parodying some of our favorite wrestling matches. In fact I carry on this practice with some of my students I work with at the church.
But there’s something about this desire to just be average, to just post our own version of the Harlem Shake and get a thousand hits, that sucks the life out of us. Instead of fostering the creative nature inside our brains we switch it off and blend into the crowd.
Trying to be like everyone else drains us of our personal identity. Our dreams become less about being the person God created us to be and more about being the person everyone else wants to be.
Think about it: what was the last average movie you saw? Not one that was really awesome or awesomely bad – one that was just really “meh”.
It’s hard to remember, isn’t it? We don’t have room in our brain to remember average. We remember work on both sides of the awesomeness spectrum, but we tend to forget about the average.
It’s the reason why so many sequels fail to light the world on fire. Instead of recapturing the magic of the first movie, most sequels regurgitate the same plot, the same jokes, and the same explosions and expect the same results (sorry, Cars 2).
Being average sucks. It sucks the life right out of us. God did not make us to repeat the actions of those before us. He created us to create something new. He gave us new brains with new ideas.
God is not a fan of average. In the book of Revelations when He tastes something lukewarm He spits it out of His mouth. God desires His creation to take risks, to be bold, to be on fire.
Don’t be content with average. Don’t make just another Harlem Shake video. Come up with something new. Make the video that will make the Harlem Shake out of date.
You not going to find treasure digging where someone else has already dug. Find your own spot on the beach.
Risk failure and be bold with your creativity. You’ll find a life that lives on the edge of failure is so much more fulfilling than one which travels in the median of average.
(If you want to read more on the war against average, check out Jon Acuff’s latest book Start, available April 22. He also writes a daily blog at JonAcuff.com where he talks about how to turn the switch from average to awesome. I read it everyday, and you should too.)
Why do you think people are content with being average? Leave a comment below and join the conversation: