These Are Not Questions

Have you felt like you are pumping
debris into a vacuum.
Yelling through a gramophone
into an empty room.
And outside,
Everyone is talking at once.
Have you felt like putting it all down.
and rebellion rebelling against itself.
Have you felt the war.
The put the pen down.
The put the voice down.
The never pick it up again.
The why try. The overload. The can’t stop.
Have you known how to share
fragments of you, without
breaking into pieces yourself.
Have you found answers.
Because these are not questions.
-Akotowaa

The Message of #IWITP

Note: IWITP (I Wasn’t In The Pictures) is my spoken word song. If you haven’t heard it, the link is at the bottom of this post.

The technological age is really something else. Nearly everything has a digital form now. Online dating, cyberbullying, blogging, vlogging, photo-journalling, and whatnot. And so do the ways our problems manifest themselves.

All this stuff is part of the human condition. (Shout-out to Jon Bellion, the love of my life.) There really isn’t anything new to the human experience. It’s the world that’s changing, not us. Feeling underappreciated was a thing, before getting few or zero likes on a post was there to catalyse it. Envy already existed before someone else’s fantastic Instagram posts were there to make you wish you had what they have. And loneliness, exclusion, solitude – in whatever synonym, this thing that has been the theme of my life for so long – always existed, before the group photographs (that someone is missing from) were there to enhance it.

Everyone’s a photographer now. Social media thrives on its visuals. Often, we take photos of ourselves wherever we are. We use our frozen faces, our permanent expressions to create long-lasting memories. Sometimes I feel like if you went somewhere and didn’t take a selfie while you were at it, you might as well not have been there. Where’s the proof?

This metaphor of exclusion in the digital age is what runs through the entire song – because that’s the best way I could have thought to describe what I was feeling during high school, in the loneliest period of my life.

But pause: possibly the most relevant part of all the lyrics is this repeated one:

“I don’t even want to be in the photos/

I just wish I could have been bolder”

I think this hits right at the heart of the matter. Yes – people were taking selfies and I wasn’t part. But that petty detail is not the root of anything; it’s just the representation of something else. In other words, it’s not the “image” of inclusion that mattered so much; it was the sense of belonging in itself that I wanted. I wanted to be able to be bold enough to insert myself into spaces I wanted to be in, not just hover around the sidelines.

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The bottom lines: if you’ve ever felt excluded, perhaps you can relate. And if you know of someone “who just wants to be noticed”, perhaps you should refocus your “social lens” and try to do something about it. (There were people who tried to do this for me, and I love them!) Because I assure you, it’s not a pleasant experience. In the meantime though…jam!

-Akotowaa

Listen below:

 

Webs and Nests

Too alone

a phrase phonetically self-ironic

a phenomenon whereby one is stuck

within a web of thoughts,

like a trapped fly

perishing, agonizingly slowly

in trepidation, waiting, waiting…

yet still not devoured;

the psychological torture!

The season, period must end

a small aperture,

causing the diffraction of waves,

one…two…three…

Connectivity. Not so alone.

Escape in blue feathers:

community, communication, commuting

to strange places

inside the nests atop others’ heads

like tangled webs;

spun in the home of an avian

by arachnids

some of whom

are also too alone.

-Akotowaa