Huddersfield poet Lisa Luxx belongs to the digital generation raised with mobile phones and social media.
So what happened when she threw her phone in the bin and went cold turkey?
There was only one way to find out.
We arranged to meet up in The Handmade Bakery coffee shop in Slaithwaite – a venue that poet Lisa Luxx feels is particularly apt.
The 26-year-old from Bradley, now living in the Colne Valley, is a member of the www dot generation but believes there’s a resurgence of interest in ‘real’, hands-on, authentic experiences. It’s an idea that is central to her recent work.
“I think there’s a growing interest in things like artisan bakeries and artisan publishing,” she says, gesturing around her.
“I personally prefer to read a book and I tend to print things out to read because I feel physically closer to the words that way.”
This love of old-fashioned print is one of the reasons why she has launched a small, glossy arts magazine, Prowl, that promises to examine the net generation’s alternative cultures.
But it wasn’t always so for the author and performance artist, who has published a booklet of poetry exploring what she calls the “mindless scroll”.
Lisa wrote the collection, Polyphonic Scars, after realising that she had spent years addicted to viewing “a third-hand world” through a screen.
It has to be said that she’s not alone in wondering how social media and digital networking is changing the nature of relationships and how we relate to the world.
But as an artist, particularly one who has struggled for years with mental health issues, she felt compelled to try to make sense of it.
Her poetry resulted from a three-month sabbatical in America back in 2013 – during which time she unplugged from the net.
She explained: “I had been working in editorial on the Sunday Times Style magazine, it was my dream job. But I found there was never a time when I was allowed not to be at work. I was a corporate Blackberry user.
“So I left that job and booked a flight to California and threw my phone in the bin to spend three months with the presence of direct experience.
“It led to this moment in Yosemite (National Park) when I felt connected to the world around me.”
Instead of capturing every moment of her travels for Instagram and posting her every thought and feeling on Facebook, she fully engaged with nature – something she admits she never did when growing up surrounded by the dramatic Pennine landscapes of Yorkshire.
The experience of travelling without technology gave Lisa a new perspective. She explained: “You upload images onto Instagram for people to ‘like’.
“It means so much to us, but nothing to the person who ‘likes’ it.
“Through social media you are intimately connected to so many people’s thoughts and feelings but we are still only really capable of truly caring for about 11 people.
“While I was travelling I met people who were saying ‘I want to stay in touch’ on Facebook, but we were friends in that moment in time and I don’t need to tell them everything that’s going on in my life.
“And social media is often a way for people to speak out but do nothing. On social media everybody gets so upset about things. But my question is: ‘What are you going to do about it?’ It should be an impetus for change.”
That’s not to say Lisa abandoned the internet forever, because she is, after all, a net generation child who understands its many facets.
Lisa, a former New College student and English graduate of Leicester University, went into magazine journalism and still does some editing for a national newspaper.
But she is currently back home in Huddersfield to work on a new one-woman show about mental health called Germ.
She uses social media and the web to promote her work and is a prolific You Tube performer, as well as giving live readings and rapping.
However, her email account has an automated message that informs those who want to contact her that she is not an ‘inbox monkey’ and only checks her emails once or twice a week.
She is open and honest about the depression and mental health issues that have dogged her adult years, Lisa is also frank about her sexuality and an active member of the LGBTQ community.
It was a lack of honesty in mainstream magazine publishing that led her to publish her own ‘zine called Prowl and seek out writers who were not afraid to tackle subject matter ranging from drug-taking, home schooling and the real, human, cost of technology to herpes and feminism.
When discussing mental health she takes an alternative view and says her new show is a “fresh perspective on the unreasonable mind”.
“Who says madness is an illness?” she questions. “I think it can be a gift; it is a sensitivity and creativity around other people, an empathy.
“I started writing Germ because I have come off five years of being on medication. I have been writing poetry since I was a kid. It was my way of dealing with these really intense feelings that I had.”
Lisa, who changed her surname to Luxx because it has associations with something positive – lux is Latin for light – believes that her earliest childhood experiences of being taken into care are the root cause of her mental health problems.
“I was adopted,” she says, “and had been in foster care. I am ill from something that has happened to me. But the best thing is that people can grow from mental pain.”
Since moving back to Huddersfield Lisa, who ‘came out’ at 21, has made a tentative approach to other members of the LGBTQ community here and says she’d like to see it flourish.
A first meeting she organised in Huddersfield a couple of weeks ago went so well that she’s planning to hold others. She says: “After the Orlando attacks I think it’s really important for us to feel we have a community here.
“I want to create a group that comes together in a safe place, for people to explore who they are.
“I had that in London when I lived there and there are just as many queer people here.”
Polyphonic Scars is available from the Blue Rooms in Byram Arcade, Huddersfield.
Lisa will be performing at the next Queenies’ Coffee House Night, Lawrence Batley Theatre, on September 19. Further details of her work can be found on her webside www.lisaluxx.com .