Poetry in the Age of Information

There I was stood inside a Target, holding a poetry book that was published by a twenty-year-old living in Los Angeles. It was a similar tone to the writing that I had done. It was a somber collection of poetry that detailed this young man’s grief regarding a lost love. I threw it in my cart, walked 10 feet, and then returned to put it back on the shelf.

Why didn’t I purchase the book? I knew I wouldn’t read it. The free-verse style of Whitman was dripping from every page, which is the same style that I write. Is our writing the same? I felt I already knew what I was going to find if I read through that poetry book. Now, of course, that is reading a book by its cover. Yet, I don’t feel bad about it.

I’m not a professor in psychology, but I have noted articles detailing the rise of Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder across America. A lot of this stems from a generation raised on technology that is concerned with social media and sees the world through the ~6″ screen on their phone. People are connected more than ever, but people feel more and more isolated. It’s depressing sitting there seeing everyone else having the time of their life and comparing the likes they have to the likes on your posts/media.

In a world where the President of the United States has 280 characters to address the nation, it seems natural that the average person would turn to a limited art form to express themselves, hence poetry. The style of past years involved a lot more thought and can come off as a lot less raw than some free-verse poetry. In this era of poetry, every word has to have a guttural impact.

The issue people are encountering now is that there are no readers. Nobody wants to read their poetry. Very few people have gotten successful from writing poetry. The swaths of people trying to express themselves get lost in a sea of anonymity. The writing they birthed to help convey their emotion now lies dormant on forums or in notebooks.

We are in an age of information, an era where nobody has the drive to sit down and read a book when they can catch a headline or read a few tweets. Much fewer people are willing to read poetry. The shame is, more people are writing it. More people are isolated and alone. More people are turning to words to make some sort of human connection. The saddest part is this human connection might never come.

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