Once upon a time, Facebook was a place I would go to for silly videos of unlikely friendships between animals, comment wars between moms on the best pizza in town, and unimpressive life updates from distant family members. But now, it seems that it’s become suddenly overrun by “life hack” videos. Every time I open up the site for a fun surprise, I am cursed with another video full of tips to make my life easier that never seem to make any sense. I find myself thinking, who exactly are these videos for? To figure this out, I decided to do some research, and by research, I mean waste hours of my life that I will never get back watching these videos.
I began with the video “30 COOL AND USEFUL GLUE HACKS” and decided to take a quantitative angle, keeping track of which, if any, were cool and or useful. 5 Minute Crafts hit the ground running with a hack that baffled me: mixing activated charcoal and white craft glue to make a peel off mask. Unfortunately, that was by no means the worst of them. Who would that offender be? Well, dear reader, that would be the most sorry excuse for decor I have seen in my 20 years of life: a hot glue Eiffel Tower. Watching someone pump out glue onto wax paper in the shape of the modern marvel, I could practically feel the hand cramps. After they did that three more times, they assembled the pieces, slapped a streaky coat of grey paint on it, and called it a day. They then showed the finished product on a shelf next to a golden book and elegant vase, like they were trying to highlight just how heinous the little monster they made was.
Now, back to the glue mask. Although craft glue is non-toxic, it’s not going to do anything great for your skin. I could not check off the boxes for cool and useful, but I certainly could for useless and gross. I was already at a loss about their target audience. The person performing this was what appeared to be an adult, which baffles me. I have to imagine that any adult in their right mind would much sooner buy a charcoal peel-off mask from their local pharmacy than do this. The mask is presented to be a quick fix of things one might have lying around, but as a young adult myself, I definitely don’t have activated charcoal or Elmer’s on hand. If I have to make the effort to go out to buy materials, I’ll pass on the “hack” and buy a face mask.
I fully intended to watch the full video without taking a break for writing snarky things down, but after a minute and 20 seconds, I slammed the pause button out of pure confusion. At this point, the video displays a person pumping hot glue onto their hair. You might be thinking to yourself, “Why would someone do that?” I wish I could tell you. I pressed play in hopes of an answer that I would never receive. Immediately after this clip, they cut to a demonstration on how to make a hair elastic with hot glue without any acknowledgement as to why this woman gleefully dumped bright red hot glue onto her hair. On the subject of the “hair elastic,” I cannot believe this actually works. As curious as I am about it though, I will not be wasting my hard-earned money on hot glue sticks to find out.
After what felt like the most agonizing 14 minutes and 27 seconds of my recent memory, the results were in. I concluded my first watch with the abysmal tally that out of the 30 “hacks” they displayed in their video, two are “cool” and four are “useful.” The useful ones consisted of putting glue on sewing needles to use them as pins, hot gluing a cabinet to stop it from slamming shut, putting glue on hangers to prevent clothes from slipping off, and putting glue on a razor to cover the blades while traveling. However, upon watching it again to pinpoint these “cool” examples, I couldn’t identify one. It seems that after the initial shock of the video wears off, the ideas are less cool and more time-consuming. As appalled as I was at the waste of hot glue to make hideous decor and accessories, something happened in the following days that I did not anticipate.
Any time one of these asinine videos appeared on my Facebook feed, I couldn’t help but watch. They put something in the metaphorical water, and I was ready to chug. I watched one horrible hack after another, wondering how they could possibly top their last one, but they always did. It got to a point where I was no longer coming upon them by coincidence, but going directly to their Facebook page for their latest video. I had fallen in love with the enemy, and romance was clouding my research.
At a loss for where to go next, I returned to what started this journey for me: who were these life hacks for?
The answer had been right in front of me the whole time. They aren’t for anyone, at least not to actually try out. A quick visit to 5 Minute Crafts’ social media outlets will show that they are churning out content like hot cakes, posting anywhere from two to four videos a day, and people can’t get enough. One video that was posted just nine hours ago (at the time of writing) has over 300,000 views. A question still echoed in the back of my mind… why?
It’s quite possible that the people behind the content don’t care if anyone attempts a single one of these hacks so long as they’re watching them. As I made my way through their body of work, I only found myself more confused and, I found that I am not the only one. People have started making videos testing out the more absurd of the crafts. Without speeding up the footage in attempts to make these crafts look effortless, they expose how difficult and time-consuming they are. Even Youtube veteran Jenna Marbles took a swing at them, making such ugly and impractical things as hot glue sandals, jewelry, and a hat.
So, what is my final verdict on these videos? I say, full of regret, that I love them. I have spent this whole time tearing them to shreds for their lack of practicality and purpose, so what joy could I possibly gather from them? Well, I believe there is some sort of joy in watching people waste their time doing things you know you never would. There’s something inherently comedic about watching someone glue two matches together to make a longer burning “double match” when you yourself know that it makes much more sense to light a second match or just buy a lighter. I can’t actually express just how bizarre these videos are, so I implore you to watch them for yourself. I advise this not in the hopes that you find them useful, but that you can get the same strange delight out of their absurdity that I have.