|John Keats (1795-1821)|
After too much time wasted on my iPhone one day, I felt like that lonely fellow, somewhat drugged by fleeting digital attractions and a little depressed, alarmed at the pull of these devices, satisfying but ultimately alarming.
Where have I found in my reading such a dangerous pull toward separation into a fantasy environment whose haunting peril is lent such mastery? There was one source only on which to attempt a modernized reflection on such matters.
So I've updated the English poet's visionary ballad "La Belle Dame Sans Merci"
Well, what can mess you up, old guy,
Alone and palely loitering?
Your iPhone hosts a flock of tweets
And no birds sing.
So what's your trouble, lazy man,
So haggard from long scrolling?
Your count of "likes" is mounting up;
There's little trolling.
Yet there's a shadow in your mind,
Dull anguish on your how,
You've clicked on many a faded post
Hours up to now.
The muse of social media
Visits you, a child:
She leads you on, the hours fly,
And her eyes are wild.
She tempts you onto Instagram
And haunts Facebook and Twitter;
As you keep browsing your news feed
Her wild eyes glitter.
You serve her bounty with your time,
She makes the world seem new,
She is La Belle Dame Sans Merci:
She loves you true.
The links you visit, shares you press,
Thumbs-up and hearts you've posted:
Are those from friends known in the flesh
Or merely ghosted?
A dream of connectivity
With horrid warning wide
Has me in thrall; I wake and find
No life beside.
And that is why I sojourn here
Like millions; it's a thing
To tap and drowse: What's on our minds
When no birds sing?