This poem needs a little introduction. I’m two weeks in to a 30-day Facebook fast. Having realised that I have no ability to focus on any task for longer than an hour without having to check Facebook (serving as a distraction or as avoidance of difficult, deep work that I need to do), I knew that I needed to tackle my addiction head on. I have been listening to Cal Newport talk a lot of about the joys of deep work and the damage that social media is doing to us. I highly recommend his work.
I am loving the sense of psychological freedom I am experiencing by not visiting Facebook. It is very liberating. I cannot wait to be able to reconnect with people in the real world when the pandemic is over.
I first wrote this poem a couple of years ago, but have extensively re-written it today.
My ears are screaming tonight
after a day doing sedentary battle
with my flitting, butterflied mind
addicted to trying to live
my best life online
thumbs scrolling and primed.
My creativity and identity seem
confined and defined by
these glass portals that hold our gaze,
which reflect back at me both
approval and reminders that I’m
not trying hard enough.
These windows into a world
of information and ‘connection’…
but the information is too dense,
too fast, too frequent, too false:
lies and truth indistinguishable
We are distracted, confused,
tormented, ashamed –
how can we handle the panic and pain
and desperate calls for support
to sign this petition
to sponsor my walk?
To ‘like’ my posts…to like ME!
And as we attempt to navigate
images of dogs boiling in pans
pics of cute cats and adorable kids,
the moral one-upmanship,
the echo-chamber of righteousness,
paralysed and scrolling
checking, clicking, checking the bell
we know that our time is being
stolen and our minds altered
but the morphine-drip has us
hooked and dependent.
I guess I need out but I keep checking in
– for how else will I be seen?
And keep in touch, and not miss out
and risk writing poetry for no-one
drinking wine at home alone whilst
friends get together…
Yet I can see my dependence has rendered me
helpless and impotent.
Know that this is what they want.
Inert, entranced, confused,
bouncing around in our bubbles
we consume to feel better,
to quell the anxiety,
in search of a peace
that will never come thusly.
Capturing the perfect selfie
marks the descent of humanity.
We need to disconnect
Make life real again.
Come back to now,
to us, to here, to home.
Stop living in our heads,
and through our smartphones
vicarious living whilst
our own lives wither
believing that others live their lives better.
So I’m cutting it off and I’m walking away
I’m telling myself that I will be okay.
I’ll be present and focussed
like I was in the 90s
and I’ll wait for my real friends
to wake up and join me.
Bea Lehmann 1.2.21