Welcome to My World
February 22, 2019
Those of you who attended ISB Tedx Youth Talks back in January were treated to a fine night of junior class brilliance which ranged from the literary motivations of Anatta Tantiwongse to the philosophical musings of Craig Dawe. However, the night was also memorable for another performance. Tana Martin and Maggie Chao’s slam poem Welcome to My World, which explored the relationship that we have with social media and technology in general, provided equal measures of insight, critical thought and inspiration to an audience that remained awestruck as the two seniors exited the stage.
The poem itself (transcript below) was inspired by the topics they have been studying in their IB Language and Literature class with Mr. Werner. “I drew from our English Language and Literature unit on media and thought about what influences people the most today,” Chao explains. “Since we are so in touch with technology nowadays, I thought it would be interesting to talk about some limitations or issues surrounding this.”
Martin agrees, “Every aspect of our lives seem to demand the need for technology from school work to relaxing, yet at the same time, there is a stigma regarding this generation & media. From these ideas, the slam poem developed from both Maggie & I’s interpretations of what social media means to us & our peers.”
Inspired by slam poets they seek out on YouTube, the girls enjoyed the process of collaborating to write the poem, and choreographing their movements on stage to enhance its meaning. Reflecting on the process, Martin explains, “Originally, we had planned to perform the poem as one voice but eventually stumbled upon the idea of creating a dialogue within the poem. In many regards, working as partners progressed the poem from what it would have been if only a single person has worked on it. Not only did the script develop from our collaboration, but the intonations and gestures were largely a result of trying something out and getting the other partner’s thoughts/feedback.”
Chao further explains the writing process. “When writing a slam poem, you need to consider the meter and rhythm of the words in ways that are similar to a rap song, while weaving rhymes and double entendres into it.” Among the many notable moments when this clever word play is employed, the final lines of the poem may echo the longest in terms of exploring the contradiction and addiction that many of us feel towards social media.
We don’t want to be like this.
But we hope that you “like” this.
Even though they may have had some different and complementary ideas about word choice and choreography, the essential message they were trying to convey was mutually understood very early in the process. “Our purpose of this poem is to nudge a change in the consciousness of society in terms of technology consumption,” explains Chao. “We want to encourage people not to live through their screens, but to look up and appreciate the people they are around, the food they are eating, and the opportunities they can take.”
One hopes that the example set by Martin and Chao, and the accolades they have deservedly received, serve as motivation for other aspiring poets and speakers at ISB. Martin remains characteristically humble when she says, “Knowing now that our poem has reached a greater audience, I hope change is a little more likely. [The topic of social media] has become more tangible and hopefully that leads to more discussions about what it means to us.”
Welcome, ISB, to the power of Slam Poetry!!
By Conor Duffy
Welcome to My World
By Maggie Chao and Tana Martin
Power on. Hunched over, looking down.
What’s new in his life
What’s new in her life
Let me show you my life
to stay. relevant
Smile. Show that your life is perfect
Smile. For the follower
Smile. For the subscribers
Smile. To be an aesthetic for your consumption
Smile. And when you can’t.. Use an emoji.
Pose. Ew, delete. Again. Photoshop. What’s my caption? Whatever. Post. Wait for the validation through likes →
“Omg I wish, I had your body!”
“Please, I don’t even have my body” →
Follow, unfollow, follow, unfollow, follow, unfollow, unlike.
Inject the earphones, time to connect, to disconnect.
Disconnect. Welcome to my world.
Welcome to my world.
Where everyone is making up, breaking up,
All without looking up pause. We can swipe away our feelings,
pause, we can swipe away people, but pause, not the cute ones.
Send a 10-second snapchat
but we won’t even take half that to chit chat.
All of the sudden we have become just another stat
So absorbed in the ones and zeroes that I’ve become someone
who depends on my technological heroes. →
See. That’s the problem.
We scroll with our fingers pulling our self esteem down with every post.
Perfect people perfect lives perfect pictures and perfect lies.
The constant overstimulation of information is only filled with temptation and affixation →
So, why do we do it?
Don’t tell me you want to be connected because in a box of right and wrong let me explain this to you.
We try to get that perfect shot, but the ice cream melted before we could photoshop.
We have the audacity to avoid face to face authenticity but make time for Facetime and I’m…*breathe*e
typing out messages of abbreviation instead of having patient conversations of affirmation.
You say, you say we missed the message, if we would only just listen but listen…..what you say is a contradiction to your addiction
We think everything’s just fine,
that we are the controller,
yet in the eye of the beholder we measure beauty through likes –
But. It’s not like I’m counting… →
Numbers, that count more than content, but what about something that actually counts?
Since when were we able to escape uncomfortable situations with an esc button,
Hold control shift, cutting corners as we wished →
Delete mistakes, with a backspace button,
Or better yet, commanding options?
There’s an app for everything these days.
Love? there’s an app for that.
Meditation? There’s an app for that.
Staying off your phone while with others? There’s an app for that too.. And it’s called respect.
Consumed in our touch screens and keyboards, we are losing touch of the key point→ →
Can we just unplug for once? →
Just. Look. Up, make some eye contact with your contacts list.
Technology has become the apple of my eye, because through everything I’ll always have my
My, I … solation
But who are we to say anything? Feeling like the world’s biggest hypocrite.
Turning to autocorrect to perfect
Our defect, but the side effect – the world, our world, is full of neglect.
But let’s face it, we don’t want to be like this.
But we hope that you’ll “like” this.