Sunday, February 5, 2017

Wordsworth meets Zuckerberg: A poetic meditation on the eternal life of social media

Struck by the eerie experience that many of us have had — discovering that deceased friends and acquaintances seem to live on
in a kind of cyberlimbo — I feel compelled to address the situation. Among Facebook's allures, in particular, is the promise of undying significance about everything we have done, even beyond the grave.
William Wordsworth lamented Lucy's death.

In the following verses, I follow William Wordsworth's memorial Lucy poems, submitting them to a partial mash-up while following their structure and rhyme scheme in order to meditate upon this phenomenon.


She dwelt among untrodden ways?
Oh boy, you must be kidding!
She figured death was just a phase;
Online still did her bidding.

Mark Zuckerberg: FB promise of eternal life?
She passed. Her Facebook page survives,
Friends send her birthday wishes.
"What's on your mind?" The question thrives,
Her answers sleep with fishes.

She lived well-known. Friends gave a damn
The day she ceased to be.
Yet still she glows on Instagram,
In Facebook memory.

Her passwords cluster in a file —
Panting, eager, breathless.
O death, where is thy sting, we smile,
When life online seems deathless?

No "check in" comes from her, of course;
Her "likes" no person sees.
She floats above the earthly force
That holds down rocks and trees.

Wherever she's tagged on a page,
She's free from all foreboding.
Each link she clicked on cannot age,
Forever stuck on "loading."