Ambrose Bierce and Social Networks by Brandon C. Hovey



Ambrose Bierce’s  cynicism and perceptions of American society are still with us today inThe Devil’s Dictionary.  His work in the 19th century influenced the creation of my poem “Ambrose Bierce and Social Networks” in 2012.  I was observing so many of my peers move ahead in life while I was trying to navigate the world outside of academia as a print journalist.

I’m happy to say I’m not as bitter as Bierce anymore.  It is easy to be jaded in our present world.  But, eventually each of us find our own path to follow.  I’m no longer living in my wilderness years of 2011 to 2013 as I called them.  The poem in the following stanzas was published beforehand in the second issue of Some Weird  Sin  literary journal.

“Bitter Bierce,

Facebook and Twitter

The three would have been well-met

Strange bedfellows in agreement on life passing someone by completely

Bierce said that “Calamities are of two kinds, misfortune to ourselves, and good fortune to others.”

Facebook statuses let us know when our “friends” get full-time work and manage to get promoted or accepted in to grad school.

The list goes on and on.

Bierce would have loathed and loved the hash tag when a tweet would incite a jealous spirit

Bierce should have seen this.

Tweets are faster than telegraph lines

It doesn’t take a newsie on the corner to make the Bard’s Green-Eyed Monster rear its ugly head.

It’s a shame the author of  The Devil’s Dictionary didn’t meet the ‘followers’ and ‘friends’ we have.

Bierce should have seen this.”

Again, I never was as bitter as Bierce.  But, in an age of instant communication and gratification we are exposed to others’ accomplishments and failures like never before.  We no longer wait for the the Pony Express Rider or the delays of the mail steamer.  Instead mere seconds await us before we learn of friends’ triumphs and defeats.  And likewise they have seconds before they know of our own.  That’s why Shakespeare’s green-eyed monster has an established residency in our twenty-first century.

The challenge is to battle that envy.  We must not compare our own individual bodies and spirits with those of our peers, the older, or the younger.  We must be content with our own journeys: success or failure.  Though there are trials ahead, and narrow pathways to test our skills and shake our confidence, we must remain strong in our constitutions.

As the psalmist David wrote, “There is joy in the morning.”

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