“I have 422 friends, yet I’m lonely.” That’s how writer and director Gary Turk starts his poetic tirade against technology, “Look Up.” He calls his very popular video “a spoken word film for an online generation.”
With more than 11.6 million views on YouTube in only 10 days, clearly the video is saying something right. But couldn’t it do it without being self-righteous? He depicts the pitfalls of spending too much time in front of screens and not enough time in front of people. With lines like “Give people your love, don’t give them your ‘like,'” Turk expresses feelings we’ve all had. We all spend more time than we’d like trying to show our friends online how great our lives are, but less time than we’d like actually letting our friends get to know us in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, the video quickly goes from relatable to moralizing. Turk talks about his childhood climbing trees and running around outside. “Now the park is so quiet, it gives me a chill. See no children outside and the swings hanging still.” Kids these days! Obsessed with their smartphones and tablets. Not like Turk. He was better, he seems to say. We hate to break it to him, but today’s children are certainly still playing outside. If only Turk had made a more personal, self-deprecating story, rather than a judgy one, his message would be more effective. “Look up from your phone,” he says in the video’s final line. “Shut down that display. Stop watching this video. Live life the real way.” Hypocritical much?
A video encouraging viewers to unplug their phones and cut down their use of social media has ironically gone viral.