Choose

What choice did I have?

I’m sitting in a torn, bright red, faux leather booth

with photographs of the same old, white man painting a wall splattered on the table.

I do not want to flirt with this long haired, slightly high-pitched voiced Brazilian in front of me.

But what choice do I have?

When it’s an early fall, newly crisp night and your roommate (your sister) invites a “friend” over and you share a bedroom wall with her

I spread my choices out in front of me: ways to meet new people when your sister is banging a guy on the other side of your wall and your friends are all moving to California and leaving you gone with the wind

I download Tinder

What other choice did I have?

I swipe like a good millennial woman, earn my 100 likes in 10 minutes with an assortment of 9 semi-curated self portraits of ease, and no consequence, and pretty-without-trying, and white skin

My brain eats the matches up, aware of the dopamine yet succumbing happily to the little moments of pleasure and validation and rush

What other choice do I have when algorithms have already pierced by face in my last 100 profiles; what good does deleting a profile do?

I walk with the Brazilian man down Bedford Ave and he doesn’t know I live four blocks away (thank goodness he does not know I live four blocks away) and how grateful I am that he took a 30 minute bus to get here instead of me

First impressions, big breaths at the end of his sentences, maybe he is nervous? Maybe I look different than my photos, too? Then he lands, “But enough about me, this is a date. We should get to flirting.”

I thought we had agreed to start with friends and go from there; I thought that was “your philosophy”; I thought I knew you after our 5 min text-app conversation.

My therapist told me dating would be good for me.

And what other choice did I have? As I am walking down this dark street the shadows get darker and I become more aware of my heartbeat and my keys in my left pocket and his substantially larger frame, I tell him, “That’s not my philosophy.”

Sitting on the subway counting the number of people sitting semi-miserably, half conscious staring at a smart phone, most likely an iPhone, playing games and reading texts and scrolling and liking and scrolling and liking, I know the advertisements are still there, both above their heads and in the palm of their hands. I thought I chose another path when I bought this darn Verizon flip phone

I swipe on my old 5C with WiFi and one of my matches chats me up, “anti-capitalist immigrant…let’s talk shit and play with each other’s hair,” recognizes my cis-women luxury to not have to message first even though I used to (before I remembered this was a game and why am I trying so hard?) a cat meme, waving hello

He does not understand my philosophy.

He eases in towards me, brushing my shoulder and my hand – and I back away, tell him I’m a Capricorn, I like the land, I am grounded, and yes I am serious.

I smile as I say it, feel the imprint of the key zig-zag on my finger and finally agree to turn around back to where the bars are, away from north Bedford shadows and whispers of old Tinder date conversations

I gave my sister some privacy (check) this is worth it this is worth it this is worth it

How did I chose this? I don’t even like bars. Or strangers. Or small talk. When we settle in the beer stained, still somehow red booth, I tell him my philosophy is to use the first date to decide if I want to flirt with this profile come to life, an actual, flawed human being.

I tell him that if he gets anything out of meeting me he should check out “Stealing Your Feelings” and that gets me thinking about data and capital and democracy

and choices

that some Silicon Valley giant made for me when they curated my choices for the night, plugged it into our collective conscious, and eased me into paying $11 for a watermelon margarita and a Saturday hangover.

 

In all seriousness! You, too, should check out https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2019/09/23/introducing-stealing-ur-feelings-an-interactive-documentary-about-big-tech-ai-and-you/ but don’t worry, I won’t force you to

October 12, 2019

Only In My Head

Does anyone else

realize how fast

we are moving,

or is it just me?

Railroad cars,

and subway cards,

and price limits,

and band tickets

all so much to buy

I’m not sure who has the time

and courage

to yell, “Stop!”

Just fucking stop already.

I channel my thoughts to my 17 year old brother

awake,

in bed,

on his phone,

under a VR mask,

playing the switch

(or whatever it’s called these days).

Yes, play Pokemon Go, my boy,

but don’t live Pokemon Go.

“They think I’m happy,” Yeah, Joe.

“They think I’m happy when I’m sad.”

That’s all this social media is about.

I may speak, write, live directly,

but I can be patient about it.

Do not write me down as just another name,

another number, to walk into a room of strangers,

check my pocket three times for a ghost buzz,

see no notifications, selfie instead, and move on.

Instagram? Marketing.

Facebook? Self deprecating.

It all doesn’t exist until we make it exist,

that’s what Steve Jobs, a Steven Jobs,

said, some time, some where.

The Internet is a place like any other;

no wonder we move so fast to keep up,

living in two worlds —

I got enough on my mind,

a bi gal wondering what to do with all this love.

Be patient, spread it ’round;

don’t squash it and run.

 

This all happens in my mind, 9AM,

on a subway car: cold yet humid,

crowded yet silent

on mustard yellow seats

pretending to be chairs,

heads down,

money away,

screens up.

 

August 28, 2019

 

Thank you Jonas Brothers for inspiring this poem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZnBVfSGdqk

Facebook Reflection

Facebook is the ultimate look into past, present, future

into comparing and contrasting

into “too good” or “not good enough.”

.

Let’s give it a rest, already.

.

Me, you,

we’re narratives–

of course we are not the same person we were yesterday.

.

We learn, we grow, we fall,

we show the world that it’s forever above us,

the way it should be.

.

I have too many other things to do in my life

to make time for worrying–

words to write,

pictures to draw,

tattoos to contemplate,

people to admire and adore.

.

Look into my eyes to read me,

light browns with just a hint of green

I am whole–

you don’t need my Facebook to complete the picture.

.

Stop the craze.

This moment is enough.

.

When the Internet crashes,

what will be left to hand down to our children,

our grandchildren?

.

I want them to be warm in our hand-woven scarves,

in wonder of the way technology made our lives fuller,

not our egos.

.

I want to connect to you,

but can’t the pictures wait?

Your thoughts wait?

Can’t we accept that we will never be able to craft ourselves

or time

into anything other than the beautiful imperfection they are?

.

Love me, fully,

please.

.

Not for my profile picture, my cover photo,

not my number of likes

or history of boyfriends.

.

Love me fully, simply,

for me.

.

May 31, 2015