The Poetry of Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg and I have almost nothing in common. He is a technological genius, with a preternatural gift for all things mathematical. I had to take Algebra three times in high school before I finally passed. And still, don’t ask me about Pythagorean Theorem. From an early age, Mark was a prodigy, while I was a romantic with visions of moving away from my “small” southern California hometown, to the east coast, where I currently reside. Mark, growing up on the east coast, made the opposite trek, to Silicon Valley, California. This is where we start to become similar. We both traded one coast for another in pursuit of our passion. Mark moved 3000 miles to further grow Facebook. I moved 3000 miles to further progress in my writing. Another similarity? Mark and I have attended Ivy Leagues. Mark went to Harvard, and I’m at Columbia working on my MFA in poetry. And the last, perhaps most important similarity, we both have a Facebook page.

Since The Social Network hit theatres, critics have been abuzz with not only comments about the movie, but about Mark Zuckerberg, the person himself. They ponder if the movie portrays his motives accurately. Was his motivation because he wanted girls to like him? Did he want the power? Did he feel rejected by Final Clubs? The verdict: all of the above, some of the above, or none of the above. In Zadie Smith’s recent review of The Social Network in the New York Review of Books, she posits that the boy-genius just wants to be liked: “Here’s my guess: he wants to be like everybody else. He wants to be liked.” Alexi Wasser of the famed IMBOYCRAZY blog admits to this very desire, stating in her “About Me” section, “Ultimately, all I really want is to be liked. There, I said it.” And I can’t help but recall a certain famous actress (Sally Fields) who in her Academy Award acceptance speech burst out with, “You like me! You really like me!”, which begs the question: is the desire to be liked really all that new, as Smith suggests in her review? I’m not so sure. In regards to Zuckerberg and his motives, who knows? It seems to me that it was a little of everything until it became none of it, a little at a time. What’s clear: Zuckerberg wants total autonomy over Facebook. He wants to be the master of his universe, and this I can relate to.

As an MFA student in poetry, we speak much about the construct of a creative world that we as poets inhabit in our poetry. We create our own logic, our own world with its own set of rules and ways. Wallace Stevens was notorious for creating intricate worlds of logic within his poems. And while we write this world, we also live in it. We are the master of our universe for the time that we are composing it. But I’m giving myself too much credit here. Some of the best poetry comes from a place that is often uncontrollable. I am the master only of my conscious self. But that primal element, the subconscious, has a mind of its own, and my job is to try and keep up with it as best I can. I consider myself lucky if and when I’m able to tap into it. When I do tap into it, I have visions of grandeur that this poem, my poetry, will become a new standard for living. I have to believe this. I have to believe that my poetry is the next big thing to happen to everyday living, the same way Zuckerberg believes that Facebook is the new standard for connecting and communicating with the outside world. And arguably, it has become just that with half the world currently on Facebook.

In Smith’s review of The Social Network , she speaks of the two types of people who make up generation Y, a concept originated by Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget. The concept is that there is a person 1.0 and a person 2.0 that make up generation Y. The former does not have a Facebook page. The latter does. Smith considers herself a person 1.0, while Zuckerberg is very obviously a person 2.0. Naturally, I couldn’t help but place myself somewhere in the stratum. Until recently, I had a blog, a tumblr account, twitter account, a myspace page (for which I have forgotten my email and password), an iphone, mac lap-top, harman/kardon speakers, and last but not least, a Facebook page nearly 5 years running. I am undoubtedly a person 2.0, a Zuckerbergian.

And I wouldn’t want it any other way. In her review, Smith criticizes Facebook for its superficiality: “Facebook: falsely jolly, fake-friendly, self-promoting, slickly disingenuous. For all these reasons, I quit Facebook two months after I’d joined it.” Facebook, in Smith’s eyes, is not a means toward a real connection, and in this sense is a true reflection of Zuckerberg himself. He has been described as socially removed and somewhat awkward. Only someone like this could see Facebook as a meaningful way to connect to others because its distance offers an emotional safety for those who are socially inept. Facebook lacks that vulnerability gene that helps us relate to one another. My Facebook page is a contrived set of answers to superficial questions. What do you look like? Here’s an album of my prettiest pictures with my prettiest friends. What kind of music do you listen to? The obscure, and current. Favorite movie? A director you’ve never heard of. And so on. And yet, I endlessly engage. Do these questions give way to a true revealing of self? Of course not. But it’s a start. And I have a choice. I don’t have to fill out my entire profile if I don’t want to. And certainly, many don’t.

I had an argument with my friend a few months ago about Facebook. He had informed me that he had deleted his account because he realized that he was spending far too much time on a site that he felt was superficial and meaningless. He hated getting event invitations and reading other people’s prosaic posts. I argued that I enjoyed my Facebook experience because I could control the quality of information. If I didn’t want to see a particular person’s wall posts, I could hide them. Or better yet, refuse to add them as a friend (because why pretend to like someone even in the virtual world?). As a consequence, my event invitations were mostly to poetry readings, book signings, or birthday parties. Similarly, most of the wall posts that popped up on my news feed were about books, articles that people were reading, or political events, interspersed with the latest youtube clip or John Stewart bit.

In other words, I felt that my experience was informative, and kept me connected to the literary goings on about town. But my friend refused to believe that this was my experience. He argued that my experience was equally vapid as his. Most of his friends were skaters, kids he went to college with, and kids with whom he worked on graphic design projects. I told him that his Facebook page was a reflection of his interests, and if he felt that his page was shallow, then he might want to take a look at his friends. Harsh? Yes. We didn’t speak for three months after this argument. I felt that he was projecting his experience onto mine, and in that sense, not respecting my point of view. In the end, the fight wasn’t so much about Facebook, as it was about the fact that he would not accept my experience as being true for me. He couldn’t believe that my experience on Facebook was a positive one, and I couldn’t believe that he couldn’t believe that.

If anything, what Zuckerberg has done so masterfully is make you believe that you are the master of your virtual universe, controlling your privacy settings, with the ability to add, find or delete friends, hide posts, and poke people that you like. It may not be a meaningful way of connecting, but it offers the opportunity for meaningful connections to happen. Because I know about four separate readings a week listed in my events section, I can go to any one of them and know at least five people there, and befriend another two or three, who I will probably later add as friends on Facebook. I’ve learned about numerous birthday parties that I’ve consequently attended, only to strengthen that friendship. And where do you think I heard about the Rally to Restore Sanity? Certainly not from my TV, because I don’t own a TV, another similarity that Mark and I share. Facebook gives you the power to control the kind of information you want to be exposed to. Can this be limiting? Of course, but it also solves the problem of information overload that one can experience while on the internet, a fear that once was the center of discussion for educators. So many sites! So little time! It was on Facebook that I learned about Smith’s review of The Social Network , which partially inspired this piece. So, Smith is a person 1.0, and I am a person 2.0.

I don’t think when Yeats wrote “The Second Coming” that he was imagining iPads and iPhones and Facebook, but the fear was the same: that the human experience would become less and less personal, “widening in the widening gyre”, our connection to each other depleting amidst industrial progression. Which is to say, there will always be something to threaten human connectivity. This is not a new fear. But I don’t want to go running scared of each new thing. I may be a poet with romantic tastes, but I will never be a luddite.

Facebook, for me, is a virtual metaphor of who I have always been. I have never been much of a phone talker, I prefer to text. But I don’t believe Facebook is a complete and accurate portrayal of who I am, but no metaphor, virtual or not, ever is. As Wallace Stevens said, “The imperfect is our paradise.” Facebook at best is a reflection of a single splinter taken from the rubble of our many-sized selves. I say rubble because like technology, our past is a constant ruin that we are always replacing or renaming. Before Facebook there was Myspace, and before Myspace, there was Friendster, and before Friendster, there was Lipstick and Cigarettes, and before Lipstick and Cigarettes there was the digital camera, and our single desire to see each other, even if only a glimpse. TC mark

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image – Brian Solis


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  • Alpha

    Ok, seriously, if you are reading poetry, please remove that awful and needless apostrophe from “Yeat's”. Thank you.

  • Gus

    An MFA in poetry from Columbia…. interesting choice

    • veganleather

      I.e. an expensive, corny choice.

      • Brittany

        very expensive…seems offensive somehow… i can barely afford community college and can only pick a major that is going to benefit me financially in the future… damn. i'm jealous, wish i could go to columbia

      • josh mosh

        i feel like you're less offended than jealous. why don't you take out a student loan?

  • Jonas

    1 + 1?

  • AaronWB

    I don't know… Facebook seems really dull. It used to be kind of cool when it was just a small circle of my friends but now my parents, aunts, grandmas, etc. are all on it. I would never post anything the least bit objectionable so basically the site is completely boring.

    It is life support for all the relationship I don't really work on maintaining in real life (distant relatives, old high school friends, co-workers, randoms, etc.).


      We (young people) need a NEW Facebook!

  • Boney Balogna

    i can't wait til we're all saying “LOL, remember facebook OMG?!?!”

  • Bobbie

    Seems like this could be compressed into 2 or 3 paragraphs.

  • brokensmiles

    Double check that line from the Second Coming… I believe it is TURNING and TURNING in the widening gyre….

  • josh mosh

    nice article.

  • customconcern

    At Columbia working on my MFA in poetry
    At Columbia working on my MFA in poetry
    At Columbia working on my MFA in poetry
    At Columbia working on my MFA in poetry
    At Columbia working on my MFA in poetry
    At Columbia working on my MFA in poetry
    At Columbia working on my MFA in poetry
    At Columbia working on my MFA in poetry
    At Columbia working on my MFA in poetry
    At Columbia working on my MFA in poetry
    At Columbia working on my MFA in poetry
    At Columbia working on my MFA in poetry

    • customconcern

      …At Columbia.

      • earlobe

        oh fuck off. it's actually a pretty big deal and something to be proud of.

  • Steven Fiveoseveniam Lazaroff

    i really liked this. just today i got into an argument with a good friend on facebook (that actually lead to my most public defriending – sad, really.) about the utility of facebook (not the first time). she tried to marginalize my words by saying the equivalent of “well, all you're doing is talking on facebook.” which is just absurd. facebook has become our pavement in many ways. the key as it always is when i am defending facebook or social media as a means of meaningful human interaction (yes, even for the 'irl' extrovert) is that facebook's utility depends on the user. this is just a medium to present yourself like the first message boards on prodigy, let's say. it opens communication DEPENDING ON THE OPENNESS AND INTENT OF THE USER.

    so what im saying is that i appreciate the argument you're making. there is a poetry to facebook. you just have to be open to see it and look past the vapidity and vacuity of, yes, maybe even our closest friends. and maybe remind ourselves that our friends are oftentimes mirrors of ourselves. but not always in the beautiful nico-vu sense.

  • um...
  • Nan

    *Sally Field

  • guest

    “And where do you think I heard about [popular, mainstream event that caters to the demographic to which she belongs]? Certainly not from my TV, because I don’t own a TV,” the author wrote, seemingly proud. She would later go on to describe herself as “a poet with romantic tastes”.

    • guest

      i agree; such a fucking d-bag.

  • Katherinele79

    This is what I think of Facebook:


  • EmiliaBedelia

    you kind of put your foot in your mouth with this one

  • EmiliaBedelia

    also, i think if FB was really okay to have there wouldn't be so many articles written about why FB is okay to have. you don't see people defending their email account.

  • Paul Clark

    i love facebook, yall are mean

  • Tom A Zart

    The White HouseWashingtonMarch 16, 2007 Ms. Lillian CauldwellPresident and Chief Executive OfficerPassionate Internet Voices RadioAnn Arbor MichiganDear Lillian: Number 41 passed on the CDs from Tom Zart. Thank you for thinking of me. I am thankful for your efforts to honor our brave military personnel and their families. America owes these courageous men and women a debt of gratitude, and I am honored to be the commander in chief of the greatest force for freedom in the history of the world.
    Best Wishes.Sincerely, George W. Bush
    WHERE ARE THE SOLDIERSWhere are the soldiers who march in line?Where are the soldiers every color and kind?Where are the soldiers who made their moms cry?Where are the pilots who face death in the sky?Where are the soldiers born brave of heart?Where are the girls and boys that part?Serving our country with their future on the lineBattling the enemies of freedom of mind.All of us are soldiers with missions of our ownWe do what we do as history is sown.Support our troops who we love and adoreSupport our troops with prayers, letters and more.Where are the soldiers so far, far away?How many will perish no one can say.Where are the soldiers we love night and day?Deployed world over to keep evil at bay.THEY SERVE TO PRESERVEThey serve to preserve our forefathers dreams,Prayers, visions and determination.Risking all in pursuit of fulfillment of dutyTo God, freedom, faith, honor and nation.Despite dismemberment, death and lonelinessPatriots enlist to safeguard our flag.With honor, faith, purpose and courageThey battle the sadistic that brag.Throughout man’s past as a creature of earthWar has always plagued his expectance.Greed, hate, fear, envy and rageHave overruled rapture and repentance.David was a soldier who lived by his faithWhich gave him the will to become brave.He stood up to terror and toppled the giantLeaving Goliath headless and alone in his grave.David’s call thrives in hearts of soldiers todayShielding liberty from the warmongers of hell.Facing down evil refusing to summitEnsuring freedom and justice are alive and well.Those of us blessed by the safety of homeMust remember the sacrifice of the few.Run up your flag and show your supportFor the heroes of the red, white and blue.UNYIELDING HONORWeakness invites moral plight, war and aggressionEncouraged by mistrust, misjudgment and delay.All we love can be destroyed and transformedBy the powers of darkness maneuvering our way.When something wicked stares us in the faceTo corrupt our morals, faith and resolve.God gives us courage to defend what’s rightNo matter the sacrifice or danger involved.Evil seeks to destroy the good in manAnd silence the memory of God’s law.It’s up to the faithful to stay unyieldingDefending the liberty and justice of all.Our men and woman who serve in harm’s wayAre the armor of what the free world depends on.Without their sacrifice of body and soulAll that we stand for is gone.GOD LOVES HIS SOLDIERSSometimes it’s hard to protect what is rightSometimes we’re scorned as for others we fight.Some of us are willing regardless of lossTo commit our soul to save the cross.Evil prospers on greed and human hateAlways eager to destroy and defecate.God’s grace descends on the souls of manCleansing the impure wherever He can.As long as man has struggled on earthLife has had its troubles from birth.God’s seed of goodness has delayed man’s demiseThank Heaven for his heroes the strong and the wise.The Lord adores his heroes of yesterdayJust how numerous, only He could say.God loves his soldiers who line up to serveBy standing against evil His grace they deserve.NEVER BE AFRAID TO BE PROUD of AMERICAAmerica, the abundant, the place I was born I’ll cherish till the day I die.Where the bones of past heroes lie buried in the ground Who loved her the same as I.Her mountains are so tall they reach for the skyWith prairies where the green grasses grow.There’s billions of trees where wild birds nestWith creatures that flourish below.That blue gold called water with which we are blessedAs raindrops or crystallized snow;Changes to rivers and fresh water lakesWhile the winds of our seasons blow.There’s the haunt of a whistle from a lonely freight train Racing on ribbons of steelWith the harvest of farms and from the factories Balanced in a box on a wheel.Some cities have buildings a hundred stories tall Structures of concrete, glass and steel.A statue in a harbor, a present from France Describes how, inside, we feel.That flag on the moon with red and white stripesProves America’s dreams come true.A country of heroes who line up to protectThe past, the present and the few.We’ll defeat terrorism as it should be foughtNever letting Satan’s horde chase us to our door.Safeguarding our borders and system of lifeAs our forefathers sacrificed before.Never be afraid to be proud of AmericaAnd march with the brave, faithful and just.Refusing to submit to the will of our enemiesStanding firm to preserve what we trust.INTO THE TEETH of THE DOGAll through history man was born to struggleSurviving nature, disease, greed, and war.Since his conception he has remained the sameChoosing to serve evil or good as before.Our boys and girls face the teeth of the dogIn hot spots all over our earth.They leave their families and all they loveTo protect and preserve what liberty is worth.The foes they face are the mad dogs of manWith a desire to kill, disfigure and enslave.They sing and dance to the death of othersTeaching principles of hate till the grave.Support our troops who battle the hordeWhile we live the good life back home.When you see a soldier show them your smileSay “hello we love you and your not alone.THE MAD DOGS OF MANWherever dwell the mad dogs of manThere is corruption, plunder and hate.In every city, town, or villageThose who promote distrust deserve their fate.All are born as an innocent childTill mislead by others along the way.God has always loved his childrenThough it breaks His heart when they stray.The mad dogs of man never repentFor they have no sense of shame or sorrow.Worshiping dominance and the dark side of lifeAbusing victims as if there were no tomorrow.God gives the will to sin no moreAnd to overcome evil unwilling to cease.The mad dogs of man must be stoppedWho murder, rape and destroy world peace.Samson, Solomon, and DavidWere chosen by God to stand tall.They faced great odds and the fear of deathRefusing to ignore their call.The time has come for the good men of earthTo band together to restrain the horde.Standing firm against tyranny where it existsPutting the mad dogs of man to the sword.WHERE WARS ARE WON OR LOSTWars are waged by older menIn battle rooms in countries apart.Who call for greater firepowerAnd troops for the combat chart.While out among the shattered fleshThe dreams of all have turned gray.So young and determined their faces wereTill on the battlefield they lay.Unable to overcome their prideThe politicians cast their vote.For this or that or something elseAs the rage of war sounds its note.Wherever wars are won or lostThe soldiers fall like toys.Down through history it remains the sameMost who die are hardly more than boys.Like monkeys in a revolving cageMan squabbles for the peanuts of power.When will we rise above our greedAnd become as a beautiful flower?Death to death, dust to dustThe wrath of war is a horrible crime.It’s the beast within that still prevailsAs it has through the torments of time.WAR IS THE GREATEST PLAGUE OF MANAs war is fought it takes chargeAnd events spin out of control.The madness of men can alter the soil Which nourishes the roots of their soul.Many things will forever change Far more then wished to be.As the wrath of war starts to destroy Those things we fight to keep free.War is the greatest plague of man Religion, state, and sanity.Any scourge is more preferred Than the one which disables humanity.When war breaks out, boundaries change And all who die are a tokenOf the rage that must run it’s course Before words of peace are spoken.War I hate, though not men, flags nor race But war itself with its ugly face.When we lose faith in the brave, which die Then we’re not fit to greet those who cry.What distinguishes war isn’t death But that man is slain by fellow man. Crushed by cruelty and injustice With his enemy’s murderous hand.War tends to punish the punishersSo the losers won’t suffer alone.The essence of war is but violenceTill the survivors come marching home.Sometimes it’s hard to defend what’s rightSometimes we’re forced to rise up and fight. Sometimes we survive, while others must die Sometimes never knowing the reason why.The rush of combat is a natural buzzCaused by fear, leaving nothing as it w

    as.Hunting one another like wild game Without a shortage of those to blame.Sometimes victory comes too slow or quick Sometimes the cost on both sides is sick.Sometimes God is asked to interveneTo help stop the savage from being so mean.War is a hell we visit before death Fueled by the whisper of the devil’s breath. There must be a reason man destroys manBut why it is so, I can’t understand.SEPTEMBER 11thAfter suffering the wrath of a sneak attack America now mourns to her very core. Though soon her enemies shall all but flee From the sound of America waging full war.Let there be no doubt, no doubt at all That the devil has decided to give us a call.We shall defeat hell’s soldiers and cast them out And if we die; that’s what freedom is about.We shall seek them out wherever they may hide Street by street, house-by-house, cave by cave. They will be eradicated from the face of the earth By the righteous, the loyal and the brave.SATAN’S HORDE SHALL BE REMOVEDOverrun with war and uncontrolled leadersOur world becomes more dangerous each day.Dishonest politicians, criminals and the mediaSurvive by their falsehoods at play.Bible believers preach, that the end is nearOur world as a whole is beyond reform.God will eradicate all which is wickedBy His fire of eruption and storm.To evil’s victory, I will never concedeMay its supporters anguish in hell.By the grace of God and the power of faithThe goodness of man will prevail.What we accomplish is heaven’s measureAs patriots respond to the threats of man.Protect and defend what we love till deathAs the soldiers of Satan arise from the sand.SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF WORLD WAR III Our sons and daughters serve in harms way To defend our way of life. Some are students, some grandparents Many a husband or wife. They face great odds without complaint Gambling life and limb for little pay. So far away from all they love Fight our soldiers for whom we pray.The plotters and planners of America’s doom Pledge to murder and maim all they can. From early childhood they are taught To kill is to become a man.They exploit their young as weapons of choice Teaching in heaven, virgins will await. Destroying lives along with their own To learn of their falsehoods too late.The fearful cry we must submit And find a way to soothe them. Where defenders worry if we stand down The future for America is grim.Now’s not the time to fight one another Or kiss our enemy’s cheek. All through history it remains the same The strong enslave the weak.May God continue to bless America Refusing evil, the upper hand. It’s up to us to stay resolute Defending the liberty of Man.SO DEAR TO MY HEART So dear to my heart are my loved ones at home As I toss and I turn in my bunk all alone. Everyday I see death, hate, and corruption Combat is God’s proof of man’s malfunction For family, comrades, and myself I pray To my love with this poem I wish to convey. I knew I loved you though never how much Till by war, I’m forced beyond your touch. Where violence thrives, there’s the stench of death With the taste of fear on every breath. Who shall prevail, who shall die As the sadistic kill beneath God’s sky. Baghdad has become man’s highway to hell Where the hearts of darkness are alive and well. I count each day till it’s time to come home And be with my love and never alone. Love You Your Marine FREEDOMIn their new uniforms The young march off Not knowing who shall return. With a proud devotion They brandish their flag Leaving loved ones to wonder and yearn. May we all be buried By all of our children Is an ancient tribal prayer. They’re so easy to lose But so hard to forget Such a burden for a parent to bear. Oh, the taste of victory Shall soon be forgotten But, never that which was lost. For those rows of white headstones In peaceful green fields Make it easy to tally the cost. America has survived all attempts to destroy Knowing the cruelty of war And, we who remain Must help keep her free For those who can march no more! 
    To Listen To Tom Zart’s Poems Go To =


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