Monday, November 4, 2013

No, I Probably Won't Watch Your Wonderful Video

I don't deny that video as a means of communication is on the rise. It is easier to create and consume than it has ever been. Our phones and iPads can capture quality video without special lighting or expense and we can post it on YouTube for free. A good nonprofit video can be compelling and beautiful.

But I'm probably not going to watch it.

Clicking on the "Play" button is a commitment I am unwilling to make. When I watch a video, I surrender my time and attention to your pace, your priorities and your taste.  Present me with a solid block of text, and I can skim it and find what I want to focus on. 

I've suffered too much to trust you anymore. I've seen too many "cute" children glance off to stage right for their cues for well rehearsed preciousness. I have rolled my eyes at your well-coiffed founder emoting over your mission statement. I have winced at poorly chosen sappy sound tracks too many times.

Yes, I realize that your video is different. You love your organization, and it swells your heart with pride to see it portrayed in a video form. Perhaps your video really does avoid these nasty flaws and it will provide me a way to quickly connect to your nonprofit. But I don't know that when I see your YouTube link, and I have been burned too often.

I speak only for a narrow, grumpy, middle-aged segment of society. YouTube's explosive success suggests a lot of people are less hesitant than I am to click on that "Play" button. Truth be told, I am starting work on a video project for my own organization that I hope will earn clicks around the world (more on that when it happens). I understand the lure of video.

I suspect, however, that the days of easy clicks are coming to an end. "Watch our video" will not necessarily win a viewer anymore. I'm not going to watch your video just because you tell me to. If I do watch it, I will do so with my critic's hat on, and a poorly done video will inspire sincere annoyance. And please remember that some of us prefer words and statistics that stay still on a page so we can consume them at our own pace.

Obligatory Tangentially Related Joke:  The Executive Director went to the Board to talk about the video project she has been working on for the nonprofit.

"We have Affleck to do the introduction . . .", she begins.

"You have Ben Affleck working on this video?," the Board Chair squeals.

"No, Joe Affleck.  He's the bus driver on the Main Street route, and he said he wanted to help out.  We also have Streep lined up for to explain our mission."

"Really?  Meryl Streep is going to help our organization out?  That's fantastic!"

"No, not Meryl Streep.  Jane Streep is someone I met at church, and she has a sweet voice.  And Pauly Shore is going to do a segment, too."

"THE Pauly Shore?  The guy who was in 'Encino Man' and 'Bio-Dome'?"

"Yes," the Executive Director responds, glumly, "We have Pauly Shore."