Is JamCam too foreign for a yokel like me? Too intangible? Or is this just the music/social app I’ve been looking for? I don’t want to find new music, and I don’t want to find new friends. I just want to watch strangers lip-sync pop songs. Not the entire song either–no that would be exhausting. I want short, 15-second, Snapchat-esque selfie videos. “Who are these people?” I ask. “What are their stories? Do they feel what I feel when I listen to Justin Bieber’s ‘What Do You Mean’?”
That was a trick question, of course, because I’d never listen to that song (or feel anything if I did). Don’t make me laugh.
As far as I can tell JamCam is Vine meets Chatroulette, with a little bit of Snapchat and a lot bit of top-40 hits. I do not picture myself sending my friends JamCam videos (no matter how much they miss me), nor would I otherwise be listening to the selection of songs featured on the app. However, I am totally fascinated by the people in the videos. I love people, looking at them and stuff. Comparing them to myself, trying to analyze where I fall on the great spectrum of human archetypes. And JamCam has people, you better believe it. People I can relate to, people I can’t relate to, people who make me look in the mirror and question everything I’ve ever known. “Who am I, how did I get here, and where am I going?!”
About half the time, the person is a child: Preteen girl lip-syncing Ke$ha into her phone. Skinny boy with glasses screaming “Let It Go.” Baby on swingset with “Gangnam Style.” Sometimes they seem appropriately innocent, just a girl taking a selfie video at school. A few concern me though, the way my mother might be concerned if she saw a very young girl mouthing The Weeknd’s “The Hills.” This girl really understands what she’s singing, but I’d rather she didn’t.
More revealing though are the adults. My cursory analysis suggests about a 50/50 split between kids and grown-ups, but the 50 that can vote are a lot more varied in character. A woman in Lululemon singing “Dancing Queen” on the stairmaster. A scruffy, chubby, white dude blasting Rob Zombie in the car at night. A shameless older black woman absolutely crushing “Stayin’ Alive.” These are human beings just like me. They talk and poop and love. They film themselves singing “Moves Like Jagger” while driving, because multitasking is easy! They don’t need your attitude, thank you very much. “What a great song, watch me sing it!”
And then out of nowhere everybody’s vaping (thanks a lot hipsters)! Smoke and Drake just pouring out of their mouths. I’d love to figure out some sort of correlation/causation situation here, but it doesn’t seem to be limited to any particular demographic. College girls vape in groups. Older bros vape on the street (or wherever the hell they want, bro). Suspiciously young-looking people stare proudly into the camera as they suck down that vapor. Ooo, delicious!
Now I’m not one to get carried away with things, but I just cannot stop watching the seemingly endless amateur karaoke show that is JamCam. I even posted my own video (The Killers’ “Somebody Told Me”) but then grumpily deleted it because I looked terrible. Couldn’t pull it off, sorry. Better to focus on other people’s lives, how they spend their time, what their priorities are, who they lip-sync Backstreet Boys hits with. Am I like them? Would I have looked so innocent at that age (had I a smartphone and JamCam)? Should I vape? What can I learn from these strangers? Can I amass enough data to positively alter my social interactions? Am I changing how I see others and, in turn, myself? Do I actually like “What Do You Mean”?
None of these questions have an answer, and that’s a good thing. Ignorance is bliss. I don’t wanna know. Don’t think about it. It doesn’t have to make sense. All I need is a 15 second glimpse into the musical life of a stranger, and I’m good. Butter me up and serve me at dinner, baby. I’ll just be over here, watching me-as-a-kid vaping along to “Trap Queen.”