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“The Facebook Sonnet” by Sherman Alexie brings up ideas and controversy over social media because it decreases face-to-face communication. Though Facebook allows people to contact old and new friends, it renders away from the traditional social interaction. Online, people are easily connected by one simple click. From liking one’s status to posting multiple pictures, Facebook demands so much attention that it’s easy for users to get attach. They get caught up in all the online aspect of their lives that they fail to appreciate real life relationships and experiences. Within Alexie’s diction and tone, “The Facebook Sonnet” belittles the social media website by showing how society are either focused on their image or stuck in the past to even live in the present.
Alexie’s use of words and tone throughout the poem shows his feelings toward Facebook in a negative way. First, Alexie grabs the readers’ attention by opening the poem up with the word “welcome.” His sarcastic tone is already being shown in the beginning of lines 1-3, “Welcome to the endless high-school/ Reunion. Welcome to past friends/ And lovers, however kind or cruel.” His opinion toward Facebook friends is that most users don’t consider the majority of their friends on Facebook their actual friend in reality. On Facebook or any other social media website, users may have hundreds of people they consider as their friends. However, in real life, most of the time that number lies in the single digit.
Alexie’s tone changes from sarcastic to serious as he talks about more stern ideas like religion. Though a specific form of religion is never stated, the assumption that God is present is mentioned in the poem. Lines 9-13 reads “… Let fame/ And shame intertwine. Let one’s search/ For God become public domain./ Let church.com become our church.” Social media plays different roles in different users online. From opinionated posts to flattering pictures, Facebook can be someone’s own version of heaven or hell. For example, a teenager may commit suicide because of bullying on Facebook. While, on the other hand, a child may be born because of Facebook romance. Facebook can have the biggest impact on someone without even knowing it.
Alexie uses great diction in the poem to demonstrate his disapproval of Facebook by using words that have much more effect such as “present” and “fame.” Facebook portrays life as it truly is but most of the time it portrays life as people think it should be or wish it could be. This goes back to Alexie’s use of “present.” Today, due to the high usage of social media, people in our society haven’t been living in the present. Hiding behind computer screens, users have made Facebook their escape from reality. It’s easier to hide behind a screen than to face real problems in the real world. People are either imagining their unrealistic future or stuck in the past trying to relive their glory days. Facebook allows people to see other users’ lives and wish upon themselves that their lives would turn out as glamorous. For many users in older generations, Facebook enables them to reminisce on old times with old friends. Therefore, a lot of the time people forget to live in the present. It’s human nature to always want what we can’t have or to ask ourselves the what if question.
On the other hand, with the word “fame” in the poem, it regards back to the major attention people yearn for on Facebook.
If it’s not how many friends a user have on Facebook, then it’s how many comments one will get on a post. Users are so worried about their image that they display boastful posts online to seek approval from others. Oftentimes, this leads to shame or embarrassment in their futures. However, these users shouldn’t care about their image online because the majority of their friends on it aren’t even their close friends in real life. Even if it’s for pointless reasons, the bulk of people on Facebook are constantly trying to get noticed. The point that Alexie wants to stress is that the ego boost people get from Facebook shouldn’t override the compliments that they get from their true friends. This ego boost users get just takes them further away from the real relationships they have with friends and family. It’s the bigger things in life that should have people’s attention rather than a small comment online.
“The Facebook Sonnet” is considered a sonnet but it differs from most traditional Shakespearean sonnets in its rhymes. For example, “high school” and “cruel” are slant rhymes where the words come near to rhyming but do not exactly rhyme. Slant rhymes are constantly shown throughout the poem like “friends” and “unmend,” “fame” and “domain,” “pretend” and “extend,” and “same” and “games.” These slant rhymes that Alexie uses show that he doesn’t respect Facebook enough to make the words rhyme. Alexie ends the poem with the lines reading “Let’s sign up, sign in, and confess/ Here at the alter of loneliness.” He has constantly shown through his downgraded words in the poem that this social media website hurts our society as a whole. Alexie believes that Facebook is a shallow way of communicating with friends because it allows them to hide behind a computer screen.
He tries to intensify the point that one can be as popular as one wants on a social network, but it’s the face-to-face communication that truly matters in life. For real relationships to work, people must appreciate with what they do have and live in the present.
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