Sherman Alexie's The Facebook Sonnet: Poetry Analysis
From Instagram to Facebook and Snapchat, it is clear that social media plays a role in today’s society. In fact, the implications of these online platforms are evident through the obsessive “refreshing” tendencies and mental health concerns of current citizens. In Sherman Alexie’s poem “The Facebook Sonnet,” the author satirizes these current controversies surrounding social media and illuminates their detrimental impact on contemporary society.
Sherman Alexie begins his poem by focusing on the false persona users employ on popular social media sites. Alexie creates a satirical tone throughout the poem to suggest the negative impact of social platforms. He begins by stating, “Welcome to the endless high-school reunion” (1-2). This reference alludes to those who are stuck in the past. As friendships leave and grow out of social networks, Alexie asks one question, “Why can’t we pretend every stage of life is the same?” (5-6) He continues his claims by stating “let fame and shame intertwine” (9-10). The shift in internal rhyme mocks users in a “sing songy” way. By intertwining internal rhyme of the words “fame” and “shame” it continues a light hearted tone in such a relevant topic. While media gives many a chance to reveal themselves, it can bring shame and dissatisfaction physically and emotionally. Alexie’s sonnet sends a message regarding the advancements in media, whereas they are more reliant on screen communication rather than face-to-face communication. Through the wide lens of technology, Alexie critiques current-day culture by demonstrating his negative thoughts on the effect of social media on social interactions.
Alexie also notes that the human obsession with social networking sites has led to the problem of self-perfection. Thus, he utilizes an oxymoron to deepen the obsessiveness related to media in stating, “Let’s sign up, sign in, and confess” (13). Alexie compares social media and religion and visits how he believes that society has become accustomed to practicing beliefs in front of a computer screen instead of in a place of worship. Continuing his oxymoron, he states “Here at the altar of loneliness” which demonstrates how society has become accustomed to practicing religious and personal beliefs through a computer screen (14). Social media has become its own “religion” for many, as constantly posting, checking in, tweeting and sending pictures is a part of many day-to-day routines. Similarly, Alexie develops sarcasm through an allusion between religion and media. He states “For God become public domain/ Let church.com become our church” (11-12). Alexie sarcastically recommends that there is “no need to leave our homes any longer, in order to find happiness, peace, or even worship” due to the obsessive usage in media (Denise 3). Alexie exposes how many turn to how people turn to religion as a sense of comfort against the hectic world, more and more are turning to sites such as Instagram and Facebook as support instead.
Further, Alexie illuminates how social media decreases face-to-face communication. Alexie regards the rapid decline in communication in his sonnet and adds elevated diction to develop his reasoning behind the problems currently facing society today. He continually states his strong disapproval of public networks by saying “The present” (5). The term “present” refers to how people are not generating the right amount of real communication. He also includes words such as “endless” (1) and “shame” (10) which help to carve “a desolate image” (Unknown 6) regarding users of Facebook. Overall, the Facebook Sonnet is built as a Shakespearean sonnet. A Shakespearean sonnet includes multiple views and ends with a rhymed couplet. Here, the rhymed couplet is “Let’s sign up, sign in and confess/Here at the altar of loneliness (13-14). He rhymes “confess” and “loneliness” to illuminate ….
Ultimately, Alexie touches on the power of the internet and social media. As he creates a satirical yet deterrent tone regarding media, he makes a reminder to minimize digital communication. The “Facebook Sonnet” showcases Sherman Alexie’s disappointment with the replacement of face-to-face communication with digital communication. He clearly believes that time shouldn’t be spent with loved ones rather than on a screen.
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