Azure Antoinette, a spoken-word poet, sent a Mother’s Day text, and then didn’t hear from her mom for a week.
“‘A text and a flower-bouquet emoji?! I didn’t raise you this way,’” Antoinette recalled her mother finally saying. “And she didn’t. It made me realize, this mess is not getting better.”
At the Code Conference at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Antoinette spoke today about how she missed the days when “a hashtag was just a pound sign” and about the way technology hollows our communication, issues she has been concerned about for years.
In 2008, she wrote a poem called “Humanity” (excerpted below):
Gone are they, the days of coming by with chicken noodle if you were sick. Now I would rather send you an e-cauldron of broth via Facebook.
I have no humanity left. … I text before I speak in the morning. And the dawn is interrupted by the illumination of my cellphone. And I know that God is upset with me.
I am dying to live again.
“Since I wrote that poem, it’s only gotten more out of control every year,” Antoinette said in an interview before her onstage performance. “Everyone in the audience [at Code] has helped make the world gorgeous, beautiful, efficient and chaotic all at the same time, so it’s important for them, especially, to hear this.
“But some days, it’s so efficient it’s a mess.”
She said often she feels that we’re inundated with constantly streaming timelines, and racing to keep up with them is addictive — and might be a waste of our time.
“I don’t care if it’s BuzzFeed or Twitter. You spend 57 minutes looking at a timeline and have dozens of tabs open. Meanwhile, CNN is too busy retweeting Rihanna’s fake account,” she said. “And is all this worth it? Am I learning from it?”
The poet said she eschews e-books because a book’s physical spine “touches something human in us.” But she does tweet and text.
“I’m doing my best, but I’m a millennial, and I love it, and I’m not going to apologize for it.”
Her new poem is below: