I’ve become so attached to my phone
that the sun no longer provides light.
I’ve become so attached to my phone
that I don’t know how to talk to my best friend
face to face.
It’s hard to socialize in person
but behind a screen I am powerful.
I have a voice that is bright red
that can scream at these
stupid blue screens.
I’ve become so attached
that it is starting to feel like I’ve become addicted.
I’m always on social media.
Constantly texting, liking, commenting.
There are days I cry, stressing about
how many followers I have
and how many likes I receive.
It’s like a job, keeping the data of
every single notification sent to me.
I’m lost behind this stupid blue screen.
I’m done with these stupid blue screens.
They don’t let me think.
by Rebecca Darugar, Liz Levine, and Brancey Mora, 826NYC and 826 National
by Rebecca Darugar, Liz Levine, and Brancey Mora, 826NYC and 826 National
Invite students to write about their personal experiences with social media and online platforms with this lesson from 826NYC.
PRESENTED BY 826 NATIONAL AND COMMON SENSE MEDIA True Connections features young writers from around the country exploring their relationship with the internet, with social media, and with the digital world in general. From essays about internet addiction to explorations of digital disconnections, True Connections gives young writers the chance to ask big questions about what it means to strike a balance between real life and online life, and to remain true to oneself in both.
by Caroline, 826 Valencia
A student explores U.S. soccer player Megan Rapinoe’s decision to kneel in protest during the national anthem.
by Pretty S, 826 Valencia
Glimpse into the mind of a student who considers artistic influences in her life.
by Augustus Griffith Jr., 826 National
From the forthcoming anthology, Poets in Revolt!, this poem explores the aftermath and lasting impacts of school shootings.
by Joanne H, 826 Valencia
In this poem, a student’s experiences in two countries meld together as she seeks out her true home.
by Jazlyn Moses, 826 National
One student explores their online persona and the lasting importance of conscientious social media practices.
by Ryker, 826michigan
Liner notes that showcase the meaning and musicality of the Jimmy Ruffin song “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.”
by Navayah, 826 MSP
Through redefining a label, a student reclaims a piece of their identity.
by Alexis G., Grade 11
In this narrative, the author uses vibrant language to explore their identity, in all its complexity, through different landscapes.
by Steysi Hailee, 826LA
A student reflects on a small moment and single sacrifice that transformed her outlook on giving.
by Tala, Grade 10, 826 MSP
In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, 10th grader Tala asks essential workers what motivates them to keep going during these difficult times, offering her own views on hope for the future.
by Kailyn Espinosa, 826NYC
In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a student shares how essential workers’ courage and compassion center her during these hectic times.
by Jahruwach Hamilton, 826NYC
In this rousing poem, a student asserts her strength and worth as a woman.
by Leydi Di Villanueva, The 826 Dallas Project
This creative narrative imagines how the coronavirus views humanity during the pandemic.
by Sabrin, Grade 9, 826 MSP
In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, 9th grader Sabrin discusses how she feels both happy and sad, and thanks nurses nationwide for bringing her peace through their work.
by Izzy T., 826 Valencia
A student reflects on memories of home and what binds her special community together.
by Fahima Dahir, 826 MSP
A poem about the strength and limitations of language and shared culture.
by Michaiah Anderson, The 826 Dallas Project
In this personal narrative, a student describes their family origins with an intimate point of view
by William, 826LA
A teen discovers the power of books to transport him to another world, and shares his excitement about becoming a published author.
by Sammie, Grade 9, 826 MSP
In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a freshman at South High School in Minneapolis thanks care workers for supporting our local and national communities during this global pandemic.
by Jazmine & Vanessa, 826CHI
Over a series of letters, two compassionate and resilient students develop a deep friendship sealed in writing.
by Isabella, 826NYC
This poet rejects judgement based on the color of one’s skin.
by Rockelle Rodd, Grade 11, 826NYC
This poem uses analogies to describe all of the pieces of the writer's personal history.
by Jeremy Hsiao, 826 National
From the forthcoming anthology, Poets in Revolt!, this poem reminds activists that "to change everything, we need everyone."
by Franny, 826CHI
A student spins through space and a treasure trove of memories in this poem.
by Calvin, 826michigan
A laugh-out-loud personal narrative about a crush. Has your heart ever beat so fast it might get a speeding ticket and a $500 fine?
by Luciana, Grade 10, 826 MSP
In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a sophomore at South High School in Minneapolis gives thanks to Children’s Hospital employees.
by Jason, 826michigan
Making bottle flipping look like child's play, this piece outlines rules for the new, competitive Fantasy Sport "Pencils".
by Kalyn Jackson, 826 New Orleans
Through this short story, Kalyn explores ideas of home and change in an altered world.
by Sergio M, 826 Valencia
A smile isn’t always what it seems.
by Tammy Fong, 826NYC
A soccer-filled, feud-fueled memoir.
by Kevin G, 826 Valencia
This narrative calls us to see the world through the perspectives of others.
by Karina Centeno, Grade 12, 826 Dallas Project
This poem takes an honest look at two sides of the writer's culture.
by Johnny Vasquez, 826 MSP
A family interview reveals a mother's painful past and shines a light on her persistence.
by Kayla, 826 Boston
This poem offers a very-real answer to "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
by Camille, 826LA
A student finds her wings in unexpected places in this piece about the transition to college.
by Oriel, 826NYC
In this poem, an echoing question strikes a chord and reveals the tragic loss held within systemic injustice.
by Matthew Inoa, 826 NYC
In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a student describes how essential workers are the pulse of New York, fueling the city’s hope.
by Pia, 826NYC
A student reimagines food justice: Fruit Woman must convince Junk Food Man and Cheesecake Boy to eat their fruits and vegetables.
by Jennifer Alcocer, The 826 Dallas Project
This personal narrative addresses the struggles of students graduating high school during the pandemic.
by Jizelle Villegas, Grade 12, 826 Dallas Project
The stunning and vulnerable poem processes feelings of loss, grief, and hope for the future.
by Corazón, 826 New Orleans
In this essay, a student threads their identity across cultures, histories, and places, engaging with legacies of violence and the movement of people.
by Earl Williams Jr., The 826 Dallas Project
A powerful poetic piece about the experience of being Black in America.
by Byanna & Kayla, 826CHI
Two students across one city bond by writing letters to each other about the people they love most.
by Riti Shrestha, 826NYC
In this poem, metaphor is used to describe who the narrator is.
by Mercury, 826CHI
A student explores the representation of LGBTQIA+ minorities and youth in US pop culture.
by Christopher, Bryan, & Jahir, 826CHI
In an exchange of letters, three students across one city share stories about where they came from and the places that matter most.
by Jonas K., 826 National
A student explores the paradox of how technology is used amongst teenagers.
by Sabrin, 826 MSP
The written word is a powerful tool, and this poem shares a few reasons why the author continues to write.
by Cindy, 826LA
A student compellingly argues that immigrants deserve respect and to be free of discrimination.
by Charles, 826 MSP
A student reflects on his life, stemming from the life of his father.
by Soraya, 826NYC
This student’s powerful piece reveals the essence of racial injustice.
by Rey, Grade 9, 826 MSP
Aliens give this student superpowers to help him fulfill his greatest dream.
by Reuben & Giselle, 826CHI
Two students write to each other about where they came from, what they love, and a few mishaps along the way in an exchange of letters.
by Jesus Sanchez, The 826 Dallas Project
This creative short horror piece explores the mysteries and danger of a night in the woods.
by David & Daniel, 826CHI
In this heartfelt exchange of letters, two students bond over food, videos games, and some scary adventures.
by Julianna Cruz, 826 Dallas Project
This narrative piece contemplates the struggle of immigrants during the pandemic.
by Sian Laing
When Instagram becomes an unsightly battlefield.
by Shayne Williams
Discover what one student experiences when they tuck their phone away for a whole day.
by Isaiah, 826 New Orleans
This student reveals the mysterious origin story of the king cake. Hint: it includes Big Freedia, DJ Chicken Wing, and a massive party.
by Helen, Grade 12, 826 MSP
In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a senior at South High School in Minneapolis offers words of support to healthcare workers across the country, including her own mom.
by Regina, 826LA
From the forthcoming anthology, Poets in Revolt!, this poem expresses the realization that a cage is not the only obstacle to a bird's freedom.
by Raheem, 826 New Orleans
A student compares themself to the place they live, New Orleans, as both evolve through great obstacles.
by Anthony, 826DC
This poem gives insight to what it's like growing up Black in America.
by Gilbert, 826LA
One teen writes a letter to his 14-year-old self, citing his past fears but looking towards his present, a brighter future.
by Savannah, 826NYC
Using dialogue and detailed description, this poet investigates whose voices are heard and whose voices are left behind when injustice occurs.
by Aphra, 826CHI
A student considers realistic happy endings and the representation of LGBTQIA youth through the analysis of two webcomics.
by Quardasha Mitchell, The 826 Dallas Project
In this compelling poem, the author navigates her relationship with America as a young African-American woman.
by Ryan, Grade 12, 826 Boston
In this public narrative, a student illustrates the hardships his uncle has faced to argue for a path to citizenship.
by Jordan, 826 New Orleans
Crawfish, crayfish, or mudbugs. Whatever you call them, the writer of this poem doesn't like them.
by Keyshana, Grade 11, 826CHI
Black strength, beauty, and pride soar in this poem as a student discusses overcoming brutality and discrimination.
by Sharoya Bracey, 826NYC
In this memoir, the narrator recounts the struggle of being the bigger person in a very small space.
by Maggie Munday Odom, Kailua, HI
This poem personifies Earth as a mother coping with the brutalities of climate change.
by Katya Torres, The 826 Dallas Project
This bilingual poem explores the harrowing story of a boy working while in school to save his mother.
by Kyla Edwards, 826 New Orleans
This creative short story explores a snapshot of what a future New Orleans might look like amid climate change.
by Jasmine J, 826 Valencia
A student reflects on her origins to deconstruct social borders and seize her boundless future.
by Cristina, 826CHI
A student recounts separation with a beloved friend through a nostalgic lens.
by Henry, Matthew, & Santiago, 826CHI
A compilation of letters written by three students across one city filled with thoughts on books, sports, music, family, and musings on Valentine’s Day.
by Aniah, 826 MSP
A student is lifted up by the dance of her ancestors.
by Terry Velasquez, Grade 12, The Bronx, NY
In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a student shares gratitude for the dedication of nurses and gives “credit where credit is due.”
by Yazmine-Gizelle, 826DC
This poem uses a fundamental poetry technique, repetition, to share the writer's future plans.
by Anjum, 826CHI
A shout-out poem to some things missed (Hyderabad) and celebrated (Mom).
by Maria, Grade 12, 826 Boston
In this public narrative, a student makes the case for creating community change by building youth centers in her neighborhood.
by Elizabeth W, 826 Valencia
Even though we may look different, we remain united with one another.