Of Clutter and Poets

Of Clutter and Poets

I was in Hydra once. Ydra, Greece. And we found Leonard Cohen’s house, with bougainvillea around the front door and a brass hand for a door knocker. My husband recited some of Mr. Cohen’s poetry and we sang Hallelujah as we climbed back down the stone stairs and alleys to the main port.

Later I read a quote from Leonard Cohen and it resonated with me: “My mind was always very cluttered, so I took great pains to simplify my environment, because if my environment were half as cluttered as my mind, I wouldn’t be able to make it from room to room.”

It got me thinking about something I would love to simplify, something cluttering my environment and mind.

I am in a complicated relationship. We both want different things. We don’t understand each other. And I know for a fact that we are using each other to achieve our own ends. I can’t see any way out of this relationship even though I barely know how it functions. If I try to leave, everyone will tell me I’m wrong and there is the potential that no one will listen to me ever again.

This relationship is with social media.

The conundrum lies in the fact that social media is the opposite of the way I perceive the world and the human beings interacting within that world. It is in contrast to meaningful communication. But without it, would you have found my writing?

I’m using the shallow channels to reach you because the depths wouldn’t allow me to do it with such ease.

The truth is that I have always been a writer. Mom read to me in the womb and I graduated from picture books before I was three years old. My memory for words has always been strong and I memorized my favourite stories with pages of script before I could read. When in school I learned to decode words with alphabetic sounds, my heart beat wildly. Writing was the next step. At six years of age I wrote a verse that brought tears to my Mom’s eyes. If my words could move the woman who had introduced me to language and storytelling, then I knew I had found my path.

But writing for publishing is tricky. Writing for publishing is essentially writing that sells. And what I have to say probably isn’t going to make a multi-million dollar company earn another million. In fact, when the masses clamber around the newest genre, I generally turn away. I am the first to admit my snobbery. And I don’t care that much about money.

Leonard Cohen didn’t care about money either. When you read his words you know he had to write. He had no choice. He was “born with the gift of a golden voice.” And although I am not comparing myself to Mr. Cohen and his greatness, I understand the need to weave with words.

So my loom is my blog. Here is where I can tell my stories. Here is where you can choose to find me.

Social media is very good at filling up my inbox with alerts about links friends and acquaintances have shared. It’s good at telling me what I missed when I chose to ignore it for a while. It’s good at reinforcing my opinion that we now live in a narcissistic generation of pouty selfies and voyeurism. It’s good at reminding me to throw a shallow picture or quote or ridiculous video out into the masses so they can give it an electronic thumbs up. I don’t appreciate its intrusive nature. It annoys me.

Not once has social media moved me. Poet’s words, in story and song, routinely do.

Admittedly, though, I do appreciate it connecting me to communities of people who also tell stories or who live with interesting brains and bodies like my Tourette-infested one. I do appreciate its reach. It will never be the tool I use to form deep connections with fellow humans and it will always make me swear (in Swedish—my new obsession due to hours of Nordic Noir viewing) when it does the dumma saker in the paragraph above.

I guess we are stuck with each other. I hope I can still make it from room to room with social media following me, telling me where to step. Instead of outrightly divorcing it, maybe I will learn to use its voice to tell my readers my inmost thoughts like the ones that echoed with me down the steps in Ydra by the bougainvillea outside a poet’s house.

Has social media got you swearing in another language? Or can you convince me that it isn’t as shallow as I believe? I would love to hear from you. Comment below…I promise I won’t view it as narcissism. 😉

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6 Replies to “Of Clutter and Poets”

  1. So I’m sort of 50/50 on social media. It irks me. It sends me into rages and rants over things that in the end don’t actually affect my life in any capacity. It too clutters my mind with things I don’t need to know and images I don’t need to see. It makes me jealous & overly consumed with things I don’t need & houses I can’t afford. It’s also an incredible thief… of time. It steals time. However, all that being said, I don’t know how moms raised kids 50 years ago without it. I mean clearly they did it. But I feel like back then there was more of a sense of community. Neighbors knew each other… and you could walk over to the farm next door and visit the mom there. Or drop your kids off while you ran an errand. While the pressure to be the “perfect mom” (because of all those high end stroller touting, small shop owning, perfectly put together workout moms that I see scrolling) can be overwhelming…. I also feel like motherhood is incredibly isolating. And it’s not for the social. Which goes against my very nature being a social person. So for me, social media is a way to stay connected. It’s a way to still feel like in a sense I’m a part of something… a community. It’s a way to combat the loneliness because there’s always “someone” to talk to or connect with. It takes away the sting of being at home all day and the monotony that motherhood can sometimes bring. Additionally, I can’t imagine my family not being able to “see” my children grow up, and for that I’m grateful that social media has made it so easy for them to stay a part of their life. So for all these reasons, I remain undecided. 50/50. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for weighing in, Amber! Clearly the introvert / extrovert happy-to-be-alone vs. needing-fellow-human-companionship is part of the picture. Beautifully written, and I am honoured to have your thoughts displayed here. I would be interested in your contribution anytime. Let me know if you would like to guest blog. 😀

  2. Like Amber, I too am 50/50 on how I feel about social media, Being a retired senior I find social media a good way to be connected….however, I do limit my exposure. I have a cell phone that is for texting and the odd call. It sits in a bowl on the counter most of the time. Other than a Laptop and IPad where I am tapped into Facebook (for specific friends only), I do not use any other medias. What did we do before social media took over our lives? We used our communication skills. We paid attention to the road when we were driving because we didn’t have a device to text on or a phone to talk on. We wrote letters, we talked to each other, we looked each other in the eye, we connected on a personal level. I honestly think some people have become obsessed with social media. It has become their friend. In some cases I watch young people isolate themselves with their iPhone or iPads….this has become their best and only friend. They are virtually uncommunicative to the world around them. So I question what type of people we are encouraging. I worry about our youth who have not been taught cursive writing; how to memorize a poem for example; who cannot carry on a conversation or lack a moral compass because of what they view on social media.
    I know I’m showing my age, but there is an unwritten rule here at Grandma’s house….while at the table, no hats or social media is allowed.
    Could I live without Facebook? Absolutely! Could I live without my IPhone? Absolutely! Would I want to live without my Laptop or IPad? Absolutely not! I wouldn’t be able to read your blog Lori; or drop you an email from time to time.
    So…..I guess the jury is still out. 🙂

    1. Wise words, Marilyn. Very wise indeed. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Please email me anytime and my offer to Amber is extended also to you. If you would ever like a piece of your writing published here, I would be honoured to have it.

  3. We recently moved from an overly populated area to the middle of nowhere.
    We live in a community where neighbours truly care about one another. Our nearest neighbour is half a km away. When someone is sick everyone pitches in to help. No one badmouths anyone. We love it. People communicating together. It’s beautiful. Social media?….. In leaving the area we grew up in to come here, we left behind many friends and family including our children. Many have come here to visit. Many haven’t been able to for one reason or another. But we have been able to keep up with their lives, those of our children and grandchildren because of social media. When my mom and dad moved north back in 1971 we waited anxiously for letters from them. They called us every second Sunday evening and we called them on the other Sundays. We missed them very much and I know they missed keeping up with everything their kids and grandchildren were doing. We have the best of both worlds. Keeping in touch with those we love and miss living far away, while enjoying the old fashioned way of living. Communicating with real people who really care about other people… What more could we ask for? Looking forward to a soon to take place visit with our first daughter who moved away before we did. See you soon sweetie.

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