Extra credit reflection by HAGEN F.
Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:
I would like to start out by saying that Rives is one of the most funny and creative poets that I have ever heard speak. I have watched this video over and over again just to hear him talk. The poem is comical and I enjoy not only the words that are in the poem, but the way that Rives conveys his poem. His speech and his use of movement at certain points highlight the words in the poem. I will try to analyze his poem, although I am not that good at deciphering what each phrase, stanza or, entire poem really means.
What I think he is talking about is how impersonal the internet really is. How we use the internet to connect to people far away, but in actuality it is more impersonal and less social. We need to connect with the person we want to talk to, and to do that you have to be in person to really enjoy the person’s company. In person is the most personal way to interact with that person, while the internet is informal. The internet really represents connection to people.
Rives talks about how you could “MapQuest” people’s emotions to understand them. You could connect to them and learn them from the inside to gather how to change them, or cheer them up. This only works in person though. You can only gather information online, but after that, it cannot be used. The information goes to waste because there is no connection between a person, between their smile, between their laughter, or between their touch. In addition to connecting to people’s emotions, you could connect to the dead, a concept that many would endeavor if they could. Yet they would not respond, but it is the feeling that they are still there that makes us want to write to them. Small kids you have lost a parent know this all to well. They keep diaries, maybe not on paper, but somehow they do. They log information to their un-living parent because they do not want them to not be there. They want to hold on to the person and try to make a connection to their lost love.
The poem is about making the Internet personal by controlling it in a non-‘government’ type of way. It is a way of creating a way for people to connect at anyone time to talk and chat. Then they talk more and meet and then a relationship is formed, no matter how serious it is. They then learn more about the person, the way they think, the way they act, and the way they talk. By using the Internet we can again become engaged in one another and through that become united. As cliché as that sounds, it is true. By using the Internet we can reach people from around the world and chat with them, but at what ‘cost?’ We do not know whom we are talking to; we can only trust the words that they type. How true can those words be? It is like talking to a person with a mask and object covering their body, and with a speaker that puts their voice in a monotone. We cannot trust his or her words, everyone tells us that. We cannot trust them, so why would we want to meet them? The Internet is impersonal
Then again, I could be wrong in interpreting Rives’ poem. He could be talking about the splendors of the Internet and the bonds it allows us to make. He could be telling how all these different sites allow us easy access to items, and procedures, and people. Yet I do not think that is the case, and in another ’light,’ Rives may be saying nothing about connection with people and merely talking about the different aspects of the Internet, Again, I doubt this was his motivation too. It would be too easy for a poet like him; his poetry has to have some meaning and not merely be so trivial.
All in all, whether you get the poem or not is not too important because it is a good poem given in a majestic way. With that in mind, you should just watch it because it is comical, and genius. You might even discover the poem’s meaning as well.