Hi guys, the lovely, young woman sighed breathlessly on the screen to her viewers. I clicked of the little pop-up ad at the bottom of her video, concerned with the overt distress she opened her vlog with. The anxiety and stress in her voice were palpable. She looked somewhat ashamed, too embarrassed to even be in front of her camera. She fidgeted nervously with her hair before she lurched into a hurried explanation for her state: I’m really not happy. I only read fourteen books in the month of November which isn’t great, which means I’ll have to read 21 books in December to reach my end of year goal — I clicked off. This was precisely why I had left. It seemed as though nothing had changed.
The poetry world is a mess. Big time. Recently the PN Review published a stinging critique of the “rise of a cohort of young female poets”, those being Kate Tempest, Hollie McNish and Rupi Kaur, and described their work as “the open denigration of intellectual engagement and rejection of craft”.
The events of 2016 incited a great exodus, an exodus which has continued to expand, strengthen and perpetuate the following year with little to no sign of stopping. What erupted from the shattered remains of the twenty-first century’s passions, hopes and progression was a spiralling pandemic which has shaken the world economically, socially and politically. Scientifically speaking this epidemic is documented as a ‘social de-evolution’, but by everyone else it is merely referred to as digital apathy. Over the past year social media usage has been in rapid decline. Millions of people across the world began to leave their beloved social media sites: Twitter usage fell by 23.4%, Facebook by 8% (this percentage alone, seemingly small, equates to 132 million people). Instagram also took a 23.7% plummet, and Snapchat 15.7%.
Why? Many theories have been forwarded including boredom, ageing and frustration, but none of these take into account the overwhelming exhaustion users have undergone the past twelve months. Social media for many became a bombardment of tragedy upon tragedy, from gun crimes to terrorist attacks, hate speech, racism, homophobia, snap general elections, US Presidency campaign, and Brexit. People have been leaving social media to escape the tragedy of it all, or rather, what we as society have construed to signify the tragic. Tragedy, you see, shouldn’t belong in the realm of reality, and yet it does. For you see as Oscar Wilde argued: Life imitates art, a hypothesis which has never been demonstrated more poignantly than in the concept of “tragedy”.