Prince Ea’s most popular video (above), “Can We Autocorrect Humanity?”, asks a lot of important/alliterated/rhymed questions: Are our touch screens making us lose touch? Who’s telling us we can only post old photos on Thursday? Do we have the patience to have a “cnvrstn” without “abbrvtn”? Or vowels for that matter? Should we re-classify Facebook as what it really is: an anti-social network (OHHHHHHH!)?
It’s easy to poke fun at Prince Ea’s tirade. Especially when we call it for for what it is: slam poetry over what sounds like a Brian Eno/Bright Eyes mashup. What he says is cheesy. We all know we use our phones too much. The guy sports a popped collar and (assumably) fake glasses, regularly appears shirtless in his posts, and uploads videos of himself completing ridiculous and impractical workout routines.
Here’s the problem: everything Prince Ea says and does is real as fuck. I used to do slam poetry myself, and the medium is a great way to address today’s need to have media delivered to us swiftly and elegantly. Even if we know that we look at our phones too much, it seems like everyone but Ea is too busy flipping through Instagram to call us out for it. That video of him working out got me immediately out the door to go for a (pathetic, 17 minute, 1.6 mile) run. Even if his style and presentation are obnoxious, his message is not.
However, this is where things start to get a bit jumbled. If Facebook is the problem, how come Prince Ea is sitting on 500K likes and uploading gym selfies? How come he’s ecstatic about pushing his video past the 6 million mark? If he’s preaching about getting away from technology, why can we follow him on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr? Perhaps this conundrum was put best in this post by some dude with an opinion named Sonsiris Peters on Ea’s Facebook:
The response to Sonsiris’s concern is the same as the issue’s with Ea’s presentation: Prince Ea is about the message. The reason these complaints about him using social media to promote an anti-tech agenda are coming in the first place has to do with exactly the problem he’s trying to address. People aren’t doing their research.
I would wonder if most of the people who watch Ea’s “Autocorrect” video made it past the 1:30 mark before they formed and shared with the world their opinion on it. Ea actually congratulates viewers that make it to the 2 minute mark. The description of the video says explicitly “You need not delete your social networks or destroy your cell phones, the message is simple: be balanced, be mindful, be present, be here. :)” This is something Ea preaches in the rest of his content.
Prince Ea actually got his start 7 years ago when he won a VIBE Magazine contest that awarded him $5k in recording equipment and a featured interview. In 2009, he started the “Make SMART cool” movement — SMART meaning “Sophisticating Millions And Revolutionizing Thought,” which he described as an effort with the “singular purpose of promoting the ideals of education, intelligence, unity and creativity throughout the world at large.”
Ea’s other pieces include more spoken word work, minute long self-help videos, micro-documentaries such as this one about a 76 year old gym rat/cancer survivor set to “Turn Down for What.” In his video about stress, he reminds us to take a moment to center ourselves in our bodies in the present moment. His thoughts on how to win an argument? Shut up and don’t argue, you win an arguement if you “walk away with cognitive growth, a new perspective, and maybe a new friend.” In short, Prince Ea is spitting truth, so we should put our phones down and stop trying to post ignorant comments back.