Society & Culture / Staff Picks

Get Off the Internet, 2014

internet-joanna-valente
I love the internet. I love chatting on gchat while I’m editing poems, skyping with my best friend who lives in Boston, & reading my Twitter feed to find out the latest scoop. The internet is arguably one of the best things to happen–it’s helped educate me with the accessibility of music, books, art, and most of all, friends. So many of my relationships began on the internet.

Yet, I discovered one thing over the years: the internet also makes me lonely. Instead of grabbing coffee with a friend for an hour or two without distraction, many of us can’t even put our phones down long enough. We’re taking pictures for instagram, making sure to tweet at the person we’re with. I have been guilty of this too many times. How well can we really know each other if we can’t be truly alone with one another?

Who am I taking these pictures for? Myself? Or to show other people I’m kind of cool? I recently wrote a blog post about 2014. Instead of creating a list of resolutions, I chose a theme. I want to deepen my human connections. In order to do this, I realized one thing: humans are not computers. Therefore, I have to take the human out of the computer. I have to become old-fashioned again.

While I’m certainly not dogging the internet completely, as I am a blogger and writer, there should be a limit. Remember when your mom made a rule about not watching TV after 8:00 pm? That’s what I want to return to–limiting distractions. I already have a day job where I’m sitting in front of a screen for eight hours, why do I need to be bombarded after work?

As an artist, time spent creating art is the most precious time spent. We complain about not having enough time to write or paint or see friends, but what have we become to busy with? Taking selfies?

One of my best friends writes me letters every month–he is one of the smartest people alive for this reason. Making the time to write to someone is a simple way to illustrate that someone is special, that they are worth the time.

Let’s show each other that we are worth the time for a coffee date without texting, for dinner, for a letter, for a real embrace.


Joanna C. Valente
 currently lives in Brooklyn, where she is a part-time mermaid. She received her MFA in poetry writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Some of her words can be found in The Paris-American, The Atlas Review, El Aleph Press, decomP, Thrush Poetry Journal, La Fovea, The 22 Magazine, and other places. In 2010, she founded Yes, Poetry. Her ghost resides here@joannasaid

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