Mark Slutsky scours the comments section of YouTube for sad stories. He posts them (with video) on his blog Sad YouTube. Slutsky proves that, with a little sifting, one can find nuggets of humanity out there in “the unfairly maligned ocean of YouTube comments.” Music tends to evoke emotion, stories of love and loss. One man left a comment below “Telstar” by The Tornadoes about witnessing a horrific car crash when he was 12 years old–and how the song gives him the chills and shivers every time he hears it. What does this prove, other than that people need to share personal stories even if told to strangers? What good does it do?
Well, it’s history. A comment left under Petula Clark’s “Downtown” tells what it felt like to be a young soldier about to be sent to the Vietnam War. The comments are full of memories that you would never read a history book. So Slutsky does a service to posterity–and maybe even the present–by collecting these momentary reflections from the lives of strangers. He’s recognized the millions of YouTube videos for what they are: powerful prompts that often elicit tenderness and introspection, in addition to the invective we hear so much about. With Sad YouTube, Mark Slutsky has compiled a video-fired archive of personal stories built on the most resonant cultural touchstones of our age–music. Studs Terkel would be proud.