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I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by Facebook

By Craig Santos Perez

Once, blogging was king. My Google reader was a feast of interesting subscriptions to blogs written by poets. The Poetry Foundation was paying bloggers to write for Harriet. Comment boxes were the new salons. I was never bored; thus, I never had to conclude that I have no inner resources. And then

People stopped commenting on each other’s blogs. Threads died. Poets deleted their blogs and disappeared from public eye. Harriet shut down the comment box; later, Harriet shut down the group blogging. My Google reader grew silent. Noting this phenomenon, I wrote in 2010:  “Facebook killed the blogger star.”

On New Year’s Eve 2010, I made a resolution to “Facebook everyday for an entire year.” I made this resolution because I wanted to see what Facebook was all about and why so many poet-bloggers abandoned blogging for a strange new social network.

On 1/1/11, my journey began with my first status update: “just wrote a poem titled, In a Comment of the Status. It goes, The characters of these Facebooks on the screen / Updates in a vast, news feed.” But I had no friends to like it. So I started Friending all my lost poet-blogger friends. I had subscribed to their lives for so long it was like I kind of knew them. But would Facebook feed me in the same way blogs fed me?

William Carlos Williams once wrote: “It is difficult to get the news from poems.” After my first month on Facebook, I concluded that it was difficult to get the poets from Facebook. The poet bloggers I once thought I knew were but status updates of their former selves. They were no longer espousing on the great poetic issues of our time; instead, they were posting pictures of food porn! If these were the best minds of my generation, they were destroyed by Facebook.

After another month, I learned many new recipes. I also learned many intimate details about the former poet-bloggers I friended. And by intimate, I mean TMI, as in Too Much Intimate! And sometimes these details changed the way I perceived the poet. You know, it’s like when you first learn that Ezra Pound was a fascist, or that Wallace Stevens worked for an insurance company. Something breaks on the inside.

After a few more months, I liked something that someone posted (probably food porn) and I commented “Double like!” That person liked my comment. What a rush. I began liking everything, it didn’t matter what it was—I liked it and I wanted you to know I liked it. What’s more, people started liking my own intimate details—and I’ve got enough intimate details to feed the needy.

Amidst all this liking, I discovered “sharing.” If I liked something really bad, I could express this by sharing it.  I double liked sharing. I like sharing my friends’s updates with all our “unmutual friends.” And perhaps someday all my friends will be “mutual friends” with all my other friends. Imagine. My friend count grew to over a thousand. Complete poet-strangers began friending me! I couldn’t keep up with all the friend requests! I no longer felt so lonely.

One day, a Facebook-poet- “friend” I had never met in real life posted about the publication of his new book. I shared the news and bought the book. When his book arrived, I began reading it. Taking a break to check my Facebook, I saw that this Facebook-poet- “friend” posted an intimate detail about his life and suddenly the meaning of all his poems opened up before my very intense eyes.

From that moment on, I couldn’t stop checking my Facebook. I began to forget about blogging. Why waste time blogging when there are people to friend, and places to “check in.” Remember the second part of the Williams quote: “yet men die miserably everyday for lack of what is found there.” With Facebook, I would never die miserably for abundance of everything is found there. In Facebook, I could like forever.

Plus, I do actually get all my news from Facebook.

Facebooking everyday was the only resolution I kept in 2011. I felt so proud. On New Year’s Eve 2011, I resolved to Facebook my life to the fullest. Like Rilke in translation once said: “You must change your profile.”

Now, I have 2649 Facebook friends. As I type this, I have a window open to my Facebook page. Between sentences, I snack on my feed. Oh look: Don Share shared a photo of a sexy stack of Poetry magazines (April 2012). Book porn. Three people like it. I just “liked” it. I’m not going to comment “Double Like” because I don’t like it that much. Maybe if Poetry magazine published some of my poems I would like it enough to share it. They always reject my work. I hate Poetry Magazine. I wonder: if I “like” everything Don Share posts, will he publish my work?

Speaking of April 2012, real people bore me, blogs bore me, especially great group blogs, like Harriet, which bores me. I’d rather be Facebooking. Oh look: my Facebook has refreshed itself & its trail tickers away into food or books or life, leaving behind: me, blog.

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Posted in Uncategorized on Monday, April 9th, 2012 by Craig Santos Perez.