There are some things that are just so much sweeter when they're cherished and not simply given away for likes.
For those of us kids who weren't quite 90s kids, getting a Facebook was already a rite of passage. A coming into "adulthood"—though "adulthood" and "social media" are hardly synonymous—so to speak. Facebook was for those of us who probably never had a MySpace, and might have heard of Twitter, but that's about it. Social media was like a shining city in our boring lives of paper football and 7 up. It was new. It was exciting. Parents attended seminars about the dangers of social media; we in the meantime were told of how it, along with TV, would rot our brains out.
In my late middle school and early high school years, when Facebook really took off (around 2009 or so), almost everyone had a Facebook. It way way better than texting or IMing; it was personal. We could put as much or as little as we wanted out there, and best of all, our friends could "see" it.
Recently, a little automatic video popped up on my home screen/page/dash/whatever-they-call-it-now, gleefully throwing electronic confetti at my blurry profile picture, celebrating 7 years of activity. 7 years. A diary, a timeline, a portfolio, of seven years' worth of memories. Can you imagine? 7 years of photos, of events, of political commentary and cat videos? 7 years of creating a public image, a profile in place of the real person.
I mean, I can't help but wonder what that does to a person. Regardless of what some people may claim, virtual reality is not itself reality. Pictures and words, especially now that everything can be photoshopped or edited intensely, cannot take the place of a real person.
It's kind of how Plato viewed literature and writing—words, or "poetry," is merely a copy of a copy. The second copy being of a human, and the first, of his belief in an otherworldly place of perfect forms and ideas. In his view the written word was no living, breathing person, who himself or herself would be capable of defending his opinion, answering questions, and branch off from ideas and concepts. And human beings could hardly hold a candle to perfection.
And yet there is a certain life in words which he never addresses; words can, in a sense, be living and good and instructive and entertaining and a wonderful way of communicating.
But the current impersonal-personal nature of social media, the instantaneous gratification of our culture, and the rise of the picture as our means of communication, causes me to understand his logic. Well, a little bit.
As most people are aware, hiding behind a computer screen gives many cause to become a completely different person. No longer do we interpret facial expressions, or feel the breeze of conversation, or laugh out loud instead of typing that we're laughing out loud when in actuality we're making a sort of strangled noise in the back of our throats.
Scrolling down my feed is literally just me and a paint-chipped thumb and index finger, and a flat, glass-like screen. Those icons aren't REALLY people; they're just certain aspects they've decided to share.
And now, a few months in... I hardly even think about Facebook. And of course, I guess I did replace it a little with Instagram or Tumblr or Pinterest as far as social media goes, but I never thought what a nice thing it would be to hear, "Oh hey! Did you see what so-in-so did last...oh right, you don't have a Facebook!"
I really don't want to know what so-in-so did.
I mean, unless it's family, but in that case, more often than not people tend to call or text about important events or—God forbid—family drama.
And, more importantly, I've realized that if people really do want to talk to you, they'll find a way. Like just texting or calling or messaging on Instagram (yes, that is a thing!) or Pinterest. Or—and this is really crazy—email. Or snail-mail! *insert dramatic gasp*
Not having a Facebook has also been a huge weight off of my shoulders. I mean, I really don't think many people cared much what I posted, but I cared that they might perhaps a little too much. Focusing on myself and not how I might appear to everyone else, keeping times with friends and funny stories personal is really just a joy.
Some things are meant to be shared, but there are some things that are just so much sweeter when they're cherished and not given away for likes.
Now, I don't want to make scandalous claims like, "MY SKIN IS CLEAR. MY CROPS ARE THRIVING. MY GRADES ARE UP. I HAVE 20/20 VISION. THE SUN IS SHINING."
(Curse you, Tumblr).
But seriously, ya'll. I almost want to claim it because it's so damn near the truth. Expect for the crops thing...then again, can someone tell me how, upon forgetting it even existed and #whatiswater for months, that my succulent on my desk is still green??
Read short stories like Winter's End
Even in the silence, I can hear music. My pen scratching on paper; the wind wailing at the bay window; snowflakes sticking to the ground and beginning to pile in the field beyond. The words I write, in those letters I’ll never send, are music to my own ears. And I am the conductor, constantly leaning into the sound, my hands willing and prying the music from the woodwinds, then the strings. A symphony of emotions alive in my head, with a trembling vibrato and burning crescendo. And as the movement draws to a close, as the fermata holds that last glistening note--
“Melancholy were the sounds on a winter's night.”
…Virginia Woolf? Probably.
I set my pen down, eyes staring blankly at the world outside. My own reflection gazed back at me, and for a moment, I couldn’t recognize myself. Then my features began to melt into being, as if the window had been a mirror, foggy after a scorching shower—yes. It’s clear now. There she is. Somewhere behind the steam.
Is it such a terrible thing to mourn the dead when they themselves have not yet died?
Be on the lookout for new updates of The Grand Adventures of Mr. Fredrick and Lady Saskia!
I had the idea for this story during a weekly meeting of my University's Writing Club that no one really knows exists yet, commonly called Penned. The prompt asked us to write about lost luggage, and as I love European History, I thought of the famed Orient Express. But the prompt soon got away from me, and ran off with a mind of its own. And so I thought, well, why not write it if it wishes so much to be written?
I hope to have the first chapter completed and up soon, solely so I can say that I've actually accomplished something. It's taking a lot of time and research, and since I have 18 credits worth of classes this semester, it's all been slow going. But I suppose that as in life, art that is truly worth it takes time to come to fruition.
Here's the basic description of what you can expect:
"Follow the story of a despondent British banker and a wild, mysterious Austrian noble as they uncover political conspiracies, treasure hidden for centuries, and secrets that could mean the end of Western Culture as they know it. Set in the early 1920s."
When I was little, and my Oma would take my sister and I out for a trip to the ocean, or inside for pasta in her little cottage, she would play music. Cassettes, mostly, but the radio, too. I remember always fiddling with the black tape when she would have me fetch one from the glove compartment. That, of course, was met with a stern eagled-eyed glare. But there were these cassette tapes, later CDs, that she would play for us. Stories of mystery, fantasy, or just plain history, set to the most marvelous music. I would listen to them as I fell asleep in the car, or when she would knit in her chair and I would lay down by the fireplace. Stories about children and their adventures with composers like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi...and set to said composer's music. I would shut my eyes and imagine I was there, watching from the shadows. I was on the hunt to find the missing violin in shining city of Venice...I was listening to Beethoven hammer and pound on his keys upstairs...I could smell the salt air as Owen and Megan slept in a church in the woods, weary on their quest to cure their mother by the touch of a unicorn...I was there, hoping, praying, that Tchaikovsky would gather his nerves and perform at Carnegie Hall in New York. These are the stories that made me. And this was the music that stayed with me, for longer than I would ever have imagined.
When I was little, I would watch those old Barbie movies, right when CGI was starting out. They're ridiculous now, but when I was young, they were stories. Stories with the most wonderful music. The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, with Tchaikovsky's ballets of the same titles, and Rapunzel with practically all of Dvorak's New World Symphony. I would feel the music in my bones. I was awestruck with Clara and Prince Eric's dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Her, with her sparkling pink tutu and crown upon her head, and him, with his steady, graceful movements. So when I was very young, I danced ballet...for a time. There is a part of me that regrets not sticking with it, but I am not the same as I was ten years ago. I could not have known then what I know now. I could not have known myself.
All of my life could change, but that music, some of it hundreds and hundreds of years old, always stays the same. Even in college, as I close my eyes, I still feel the way I did so many years ago. How could one person compose so many parts for so many instruments, and have it be so passionate? How can that come from someone's mind? How do we hear music before it is even on paper? What masters! For the life of me, I wish I knew how they did it, but for now, I am content to sit back and listen.
I bring that old radio station my Oma would always blast in her car with me via their iPhone app. Classical 99.5, WCRB, Boston. But many things have changed. I know the hosts by name. I even follow some of them on Instagram and Twitter. I make dinner for myself to their Sunday Night at The Opera and recordings of The Boston Symphony Orchestra on Saturdays. And whenever I listen, I am transported back to the sleepovers with my Oma, when we would read and drink tea with the radio on in the background.
We can never tell what will influence us as we grow up and discover ourselves. I grew up with stories. I am a writer who (should actually finish what they write) listens to opera, classical, jazz, and the occasional K-pop (though I have no idea where that comes from). Point is, I'll take Beethoven over Beyoncé any day. I'm no musician, but it's a part of something that I love, that I could not live without. We never think about the things that make us, the things we carry on over from childhood into adulthood. And, to make matters even more interesting, we're not done yet. There is still so much of us we do not know. We never know what will come into our path tomorrow, or what we will remember that we were once so close to.