“The problem with simcha videos is not tedium but messaging”

It is basically the narration of the child’s life as a toddler, kindergartener, elementary schooler and awkward middle schooler. The child’s friends will clap wildly when an image of one of them appears. There will be the great aunt who will give a smaller check because she did not show up in one slide. There will definitely be one girl sobbing in the ladies’ room stalls because she’s been left out.

There will, of course, be the mandatory slide of the bar mitzvah in diapers, and everyone will laugh. There will be the child on a grandparent’s knee, and everyone will kvell. There will be painful family vacation photos where the child in question is the blurry one in the red bathing suit three people in from the left. People, we don’t want to see your family in bathing suits. Ever. Even if you are all candidates for the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated. TMI, I say.

Let’s face it, pre-adolescent children just aren’t that interesting. They don’t yet have a story. And a simcha is not a time to subject a captive audience to today’s equivalent of your home videos. Do that on your own time, even if you are paying for the meal.

I don’t mean to say that bar/bat mitzvah videos are boring. Of course they’re boring. Everyone knows that. So are most of the speeches and poems. As part of our social reciprocity in the collective we call community, we are willing to subject ourselves to your boredom so that you will tolerate ours. It’s a well-known deal. The problem with simcha videos is not tedium but messaging.

Erica Brown, “Not Another Video, Please”, The Jewish Week (2 January 2015), 38.