I must be on some sort of personal vendetta against how my generation views the world—a surprise to precisely zero people who have met me—because this is twice in one week that I have sat down to write and out came a tirade against the “travel/do everything big/airbrush my existence/etc.” mindset. As my personal crusade against venerating a flashy life rolls on, this rant will be brought to you courtesy of March Madness and my suggestion that you DO NOT LISTEN TO CASEY NEISTAT.
If you have watched any basketball in the past month you have probably been unable to get away from Casey Neistat, even if you still have no idea who he is. Neistat is a famous youtube personality that has worked his way into the public eye having close to 7 million subscribers, 1.5 billion views, and being the quintessential online personality. He recently starred in a commercial for Samsung that has been shown during every commercial break of March Madness making him as relevant to college basketball as bad seeding by the selection committee and referees missing an obvious goaltending—yes, thank you for noticing, it has been two weeks and I’m not bitter; even though my wife picked Gonzaga to win it all and her bracket has, yet again, been better than mine and it was an obvious call that was missed and sealed a questionable Gonzaga win, but I would never do something as petty as complain about it on the internet because, once again, I’m not bitter.
Anyway, Neistat’s commercial is all about being a creator and doing what people say cannot be done, a theme that he explains in more depth in a recently released video titled “DO WHAT YOU CAN’T” ****Fair warning on some colorful language and content****
The guy knows how to make a video. Even the large portion of humanity that has no creative ability, of which I would include myself, walks away from that brief movie wanting to create. How do you not? Creating just looks so . . . cool. I guess all that stands between me and the amazing life presented in the video is a willingness to dedicate myself to the creative process and a better internet connection.
There was a moment in the video at 2:45 where Neistat suggests that if you do the creative process right you get to quit your day job and travel the world having really great experiences culminating in “a life moving so fast and so full, you won’t even have time to process it.”
It is difficult sometimes to cut through the stunning cinematography and breakneck pace of editing to notice the content of the voice over, but if you pause for just one second to consider Neistat’s suggestion—ironically pausing at the very moment you were told your life will move too fast to pause and reflect—you may notice that he is suggesting that life should be moving so quickly that reflection is impossible.
What is important is having so many experiences that you just keep moving and keep moving and keep doing and keep doing and keep doing. Travel and take pictures and eat crazy food and meet people who are different, but just keep moving so you don’t have to stop and come to the realization that life filled with cool videos is often empty of meaning. Its Nietzsche with jump cuts and Helvetica branding.
In fairness to Neistat I think there is a lot of value and virtue in his work; he . I am appreciative of his relentless pursuit of encouraging people to be creative—in my opinion the Church has given up far too much ground in the world of creativity in the past hundred or so years—but in the same breath, I believe that he is chasing after an empty goal that never ends and offers no lasting satisfaction.
Meaning is not derived from artistry. Artistry, when done well, communicates meaning.
So, in my last impassioned plea to my generation . . . at least my last impassioned plea this week: Put down the camera and stop trying to live like 21st century Jay Gatsby on a budget.
I’ve already written this week about finding value in Christ in the little mundane things that never make it onto any social media platforms, but I still find a lot of value in creativity done well. I just want to make sure that we aren’t moving so fast that we cannot take a brief intermission to ponder whether we are doing it well. Pictures and videos are not intrinsically bad, but being creative is not an end goal and if it is maybe it is time that you DO NOT LISTEN TO CASEY NEISTAT and instead pause and ask yourself, “Where is true purpose found?”