Dean SST10 – Adele, Trigger Warnings and a McDonalds Cup

19 Jan

Adele, Trigger Warnings and a McDonalds Cup



You have your headphones on

Listening to music

When a McDonalds cup appears over you shoulder

Attached to a hand

Attached to a man

Attached to a voice

Just a faint mumble under the music




Addressing the whole section of train

And not you directly

You stare at your phone

Adele’s face is looking back at you

You’ve been listening to her on repeat for a week

And you wonder what it must be like

To be a millionaire at 19, 21 or 25


A lady opposite you goes into her purse

And produces some coins

He brings his cup forward

She brings her hand forward

They meet in front of your face

And clink

The coins go into the cup

But it hovers there with only a slight jolting

With the train’s bumps and turns

You continue to stare at your phone


And when this man’s hand disappears

You know he is still near from the smell

And you think to yourself

If I can ignore this

No wonder I am so desensitised to what I see online


Is this man, his hand and McDonalds cup

Any more real or surreal to me

Than Trayvon Martin’s packet of skittles

Than Eric Garner’s haunting last words

Than little Aylan Kurdi’s body on a beach

Than a night of bloodshed in Paris

Than air strikes on Syria


“I’ve forgotten how it felt before the world fell at our feet

There’s such a difference between us

And a million miles”


In a recent interview with Graham Norton

Adele said her tweets have to go through two people

Before they are posted online

Her management made this decision

After too many drunken tweets and opinions


I often want to delete every tweet

Facebook post and picture on my Instagram

I want an “Are you sure?” button

And then an “Are you really sure?” button

Before the one that lets you send your post online

These words and images can haunt you

Like a ghost wearing your own face

But now there’s an app

Called Snapchat

That shows you fleeting moments

That you can never get back

Its logo is a ghost

But isn’t that just life?

Fleeing moments

That you can never get back

We see ghosts of ourselves

When we look back

At our past post on social media


That’s not you anymore

That’s not you anymore

Every moment that passes

We are different to who we were before

And yet we build digital monuments to ourselves

Curate galleries of selfies

Publish our opinions about everything


It’s important to have an opinion about everything

And tell everyone everything you think about everything

Think about it

Now tell me what you think about it

So I can tell you what I think about what you think about it

And you can tell me what you think about what I think

About what you think about it

But you mustn’t think

Without posting something

Because how will anyone know you’re thinking?

Now let’s think about something else


I never needed a nightlight as a child

The dark never frightened me

No monsters lurking in the shadows

Or under the bed or in my head

But now my phone has become both

My nightlight and the way the monsters get in


When I log on to social media

The world’s woes, worries and wars

Tumble into my phone

So sometimes I need to disconnect

And spend some time on my own


When I disconnect from social media

I reconnect with myself

Pay more attention to my physical

And mental health

When I disconnect from social media

I breathe a sigh of relief

No wars are waged, no terror attacks

No refugees, no grief


A friend of mine only ever tweeted once

He is dead now but his Twitter account follows me

He will always follow me

He will always be smiling in his profile picture and in my memory

At the funeral a friend said she found out via Facebook

Part of me wanted to see his dead body so I knew it was really true

Death has become something we see the footage of and not just hear about

Social media is an open coffin at the front of a church

It’s up to you if you want to go and look in

But don’t say you haven’t been warned


Trigger warnings:


Abusive relationship




Animal abuse

Animal death







Car accident

Child abuse


Cyber bullying


Death penalty


Domestic abuse


Drug use

Eating disorder


Forced captivity

Graphic sex









Medical procedures


Nazi paraphernalia









Ritualistic self-harm



Serious injury


Sexual abuse






Terminal illness









Not everyone needs the trigger warnings

Not everyone is afraid of the dark

Not everyone can see the ghosts

Everyone’s relationship to social media is different

Just like everyone’s relationship to Adele

Or to themselves

Headphones on

Listening to music

When a McDonalds cup appears over your shoulder

Attached to a hand

Attached to a man

Attached to a voice

Just a faint mumble under the music




But this time you look up to see

He is wearing your face.


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