Livre de Visage est Merde du Taureau

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Welcome my son, welcome to the machine. Where have you been? It’s alright we know where you’ve been. You’ve been in the pipeline, filling in time…- Pink Floyd

Complex codes, pages and pages of carefully arranged integers, symbols and commands conjure an artificial landscape with real world consequences accessible by billions of fingertips tap, tap, tapping on keyboards and touch screens across the planet.  Most of us didn’t even pause to allow our minds to be blown, impetuously jumping head first into a new world of personal alchemy.  The human race now possesses a tool with which it can recast even its most downtrodden and self-conscious specimens as happy, adventurous, well-adjusted, good-looking, talented Ubermenschen.

Rapid evolution of communication forums transformed message boards into chat rooms, giving way to Myspace whose quickly exhausted novelty inspired the creation of Facebook and Twitter.  Personally, I preferred Myspace for the display of self-congratulatory content because the pathetic pursuit of praise or pity needn’t masquerade as natural human interaction.  Of course, any teenager reading this would roll his or her eyes and inform me that Myspace is “so 2005” but since I can be pretty accurately described as “so 1987”, I still view it as a contemporary virtual venue.

Along came Zuckerberg with his news feeds and likes and Farmville and vacation photo albums and the world was poised to embrace its narcissism in a never ending game of hyperbolic oneupsmanship.  Blech.

When Maryellen and I started this blog back in November, I sent an e-mail announcing its existence to almost every friend, family member and colleague on my Yahoo contacts list.  Since my previous brief forays into Facebook left me with a profoundly bad taste in my mouth, I thought that perhaps this would be a more palatable and less self-centered way of informing those who care what’s been on my mind of late.  Well, about 10% of the people who received that introductory e-mail have been reading our silly (but sometimes personally informative) posts, however, most of the people tuning in are fellow WordPress bloggers, many of whom are far more talented and entertaining than us.  Granted, that’s turned out to be my favorite effect of shouting into virtual space – discovering like-minded souls half a world away and sharing ideas is an incredible and often uplifting thing.  But as more and more wonderful strangers entered our orbit, my friends and family were none-the-wiser, occasionally admonishing me via text message to re-join Facebook with the rest of the civilized world because apparently, picking up a phone or sending an e-mail is just too much of a commitment in our modern world full of folks who have evolved at lightning speed into impatient sedentary creatures demanding instantaneous delivery of their moment-to-moment arrogance and frivolity.

On Friday, I decided to create a temporary Facebook page for the sole purpose of promoting Two Voices.  To my chagrin, Facebook does not allow one to do this until a personal page is created bearing the user’s actual name, and then a page specific to the blog could be constructed and linked to my individual profile.  Fine.  I put minimal effort into creating a bare-bones display bearing my name, a thumbnail photo and a link to the page promoting the blog.  From there, one can access a link that sends them here.

Within minutes, friends and family members sent messages to my personal page (which bore a single post stating in no uncertain terms that I am not on Facebook to chat or regale the world with boring photos from my last road trip, but purely to promote the blog).  I was welcomed back, instant messaged, How’ve ya been’d, and generally treated as if I was a returning decorated war hero.  Sounds nice, right?  It wasn’t.  And here’s why: long before the creation of this blog, I had a telephone and an e-mail address.  Anyone with whom I’m even moderately close has that information.  If any of these good people truly wanted to know how I’ve been, all it would require is a phone call or a two line message.  I’ve even been known to return text messages, ruling out social anxiety and laryngitis as acceptable excuses for a complete lack of communication.  So what was the problem?  I wasn’t on Facebook.  I now fully realize that to the great interconnected hive mind of 21st century Earth, someone who does not perpetually assert him or herself via Facebook or Twitter does not exist.

The swarm mentality that Facebook facilitates is perplexingly clannish and seems unable or unwilling to escape its own confines.  A news article or well-crafted editorial that is available to all on a major news website will go largely unseen until someone posts it to their Facebook page, at which point it begins “trending”, as if an actual real-time event were capable of giving a shit about its own level of popularity.  A blog, regardless of its level of sophistication, will go largely unseen until its author throws in the towel and announces its existence on Facebook or Twitter.

Since Friday, our usual average of 20 or so readers a day has exploded into almost 100 per day.  This will level out when the novelty wears off, but it may have attracted a few more permanent regular readers from among the friends and family members that just two days ago viewed me as Facebook’s prodigal son.  Also, I don’t intend for either of my new Facebook profiles to remain online for longer than a few more days.  An innocent game of virtual telephone can cause a surprising amount of turmoil.  The Loughman family is vast, and consists of many people who would be ashamed to share a last name with someone who publishes articles as offensive, vulgar, blasphemous and proudly liberal as many of mine tend to be.  If a single adjective could describe the essence of my paternal relatives, it would definitely be “Catholic”, followed closely by the further classifications of “Republican” and “patriotic”.  Inviting one or two of my cooler and more progressive cousins to take a look at Two Voices could potentially find me excommunicated from my own family name if they were to innocently mention its existence to one or two of my decidedly un-progressive cousins, aunts or uncles.  This is why I love each of you who entered our world as strangers with a shared interest in the written word.  Without pre-existing baggage, I can express myself honestly with no fear of recrimination and best of all, I have been truly inspired more times than I can possibly recount by the beautiful and vulnerable self-expression of total strangers the world over, all of whom seem less and less like strangers every day.

So to all of my friends and loved ones stuck in the swamp of likes and reposts and emojis and impressing “friends” who aren’t really friends, I reach out to you with compassion to suggest that today, in an effort to retard the progress of evolving out of your need for limbs and speech, you sign off social media, take a walk outdoors, play with your children or your pets, read a good book, and maybe – just maybe – pick up the phone and call a friend.  You might be surprised how nice it is to hear a friendly voice.  But don’t call me, okay? I’m not feeling very talkative today.

 

25 thoughts on “Livre de Visage est Merde du Taureau

  1. It annoys me no end that I can’t make a Facebook page without connecting it to my personal account, as I like to keep a level of anonymity with my writing. I do have an art page though, and it’s not as easy to promote stuff as you might think, unless you are prepared to pay for sponsored posts.

    You’re right in saying very few make an effort if it involves using proactive communication outside of social media. I’ve had similar experiences where I go offline for a while and I cease to exist in people’s minds. Of the people I have shared my blog with on my personal account, very few have bothered to read it beyond a quick glance out of curiosity and gave no feedback. Quite soul destroying when they are supposedly the ones who care most about who I am and what I do!

    I also started a Twitter account to promote my blog, and I’ve been unimpressed with the format so far. Then again I haven’t really put much time and effort in understanding how to make the most of it because it feels so alien.

    So all in all, wordpress itself has been the best place for getting my work read and receiving constructive comments. But basically all social media platforms are making robots of us.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I had the same problem with trying to make a Facebook page for the blog without giving up my secret identity 😉 I thought about just making another pseudonym, but like an actual name this time, but by then I had already lost interest. Oh how this faced-paced internet life has reduced our attention spans to rubble.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Initially, the “desertcurmudgeon” moniker was intended to be my veil of anonymity. But for some reason, in my earliest posts, I typed my full name at the bottom anyway and within a couple of weeks, I was posting shit like “Top 10 Paul Loughmans”, at which point the need for the espionage of a top secret blogging handle vanished into thin air.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Exactly! Or like Homer Simpson when he was put into the Witness Protection Program, so he walked around in public wearing a T-shirt with the words Witness Protection Program and a baseball cap with the letters WPP emblazoned across the top.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. For me, Facebook isn’t inherently inferior to any other means of communication. There will always be more dross than gold no matter what form of communication is employed. (Case in point, the existence of greetings cards in pen and paper realm.)

    Sure, I’ve shared goofy memes and videos, and laughed with some wonderfully weird people over some of the of the stupidest shit imaginable. I’ve liked photos that people have posted of their pets or what they had for lunch.

    And…
    I’ve had long one-on-one discussions about the concepts of God and religion, about racism and sexism and rape culture. I’ve argued with my crazy uncle about politics, gun control, the environment (something that might get me thrown out of a family gathering if I attempted it in person.) I’ve found out about events in my area, books/movies I hadn’t otherwise heard of, music I would have never have discovered on my own.

    It’s like shoving your hand in a pitch-black hole sometimes. You may snatch it back out to find it covered with slime or baby spiders or something gross/terrifying, but once in a while, you manage to grab a white rabbit by ears and in those moments, it’s magical.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Like most one-sided statements of opinion, what I wrote can be viewed from many angles. The angle that probably makes me look the worst is this one: perhaps I prefer blogging to more interactive internet activities because I get to speak my opinionated mind without being interrupted and people can only debate what I’ve said after the fact in the comments. But by then, I’ve already had my say. This may be a much clearer example of narcissism than posting the excruciating minutiae of one’s daily life on FB. And great point about greeting cards — a $3.00 piece of cardboard with the words “Happy Birthday” to present to a friend while verbally telling him or her, “Happy Birthday!”.

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      1. Blogging takes courage, Facebook doesn’t. And you are right that it also creates disconnected connections — a virtual voyeurism that at times allows me to study others without exposing myself. Yet that unhindered study also allows me to recognize that others share traits of what I like to think of as *my* weirdness…a microcosm (or pale shadow, if you prefer) the blogging world. Either way, those small threads of kinship make it easier to reach through the monitor occasionally and put a fraction of that weirdness on display for others to then ponder from the sidelines. Turtles all the way down.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I prefer blogging as well. I could care less about photo of your dog, which particular bean in a 15oz can was responsible for your latest fart, etc.

    In the 5+ years I’ve been blogging, I’ve become acquainted with a good number of people around the world who share my love of writing. We don’t post recipes, but do occasionally share some critique to help make each other’s work better.

    I realize there are folks out there who love Facebook, and I say, let ’em have it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m just going to be brief. Facebook blows. The “flawless” selfies, proclamations of so-called love, photos of last night’s dinner, photos of the best night ever, political opinions, etc. have been partially responsible for turning me into even a more bitter asshole. Nobody’s life is so beautiful and perfect. Staged, perhaps? Anyway, I miss the MySpace days.

    And, Paul, I applaud you for being partially responsible for my breakup with Sasquatch, which happened via MySpace.

    You have opened my eyes to a new world here. Blogging may just be my next outlet. Plus, I don’t feel obligated to be PC since my colleagues know nothing of this. And I could use a little freedom.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! You would probably my my number one and only fan.. Let me do some thinking on this for a bit…
        I need to come up with fresh material.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Once again you’ve hit the nail right on the head. Facebook’s problem is that it caters to a select group of individuals: the people who don’t have the attention spans to invest their time in actually getting to know someone. It has perfected the art of dressing up shallow relationships as meaningful connections.
    In the final days of my own personal life on Facebook I tried reaching out to people for support, but all my cries for help felt like cries for attention. And that’s the problem: nothing feels real when everything else is fake. I knew everyone else was simply reading my pleas and rolling their eyes, because that’s what I was doing. It was just a mass of people all clamouring over one another trying to make it to the top of the pile so that they could feel noticed, feel acknowledged. And that was when I knew I had to get out of that pile.
    Here on WordPress people actually care about what you have to say. They want to read what you’ve written, and they want your feedback and opinion. I mean look at this! Do you think you’d ever see this much feedback on Facebook??
    See, there’s nothing wrong with wanting attention; that’s a basic human instinct. The problem is not GIVING attention. The problem in insincerity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very well said. “And that’s the problem: nothing feels real when everything else is fake.” That undeniable truth may be precisely what keeps people clinging to unreality — when your virtual world far outpaces your real life, it’s hard to find the motivation to abandon the former for the latter.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Quite true! People need to start thinking of them as one and the same, rather as separate identities. I mean coming from someone who keeps his blog a secret that’s a little hypocritical, but it’s not like I’m two different individuals. I’m just not quite ready to share certain things with certain people, but it’s still me on both fronts.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Another potential silver lining to insomnia. Of course, you missed nothing by missing my ever-so-brief profile. And my prediction was proven right more quickly than I would have imagined: on day 2 of having a FB page, one of the “how the hell am I related to these people”-type of cousins requested access — and that cannot happen.

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      1. I am planning to try to post something today … but I have been sucked into an organizational zone that I have put off for a while. Was driving past your place of work earlier and was going to stop by, but I was pretty ragged at the time. Maybe later.

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  6. I FUCKING HATE FACEBOOK!!!! OMG, this post was like reading my own mind!! I have a FB profile, but I never go on it. Any blog post I write is automatically posted to FB, though, but I don’t even why I even bother posting it there. The majority of the support and encouragement I receive comes from my fellow bloggers, not my ‘friends’ on FB. My family could give two shits about my blog. With blogging, I have found a world of like-minded individuals and feel so blessed to be a part of this fun and crazy world of words and weird. And I am with you Paul, why can’t people pick up the phone or reach out to see how you are doing without FB? It drives me crazy. I think FB and DJT combined are ruining the world and are going to take us all down. Thanks for this post, Paul…it was awesome!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Phew! It’s gratifying to know that you fully get where I’m coming from, Tanya. Sometimes I feel like I truly live up to the “curmudgeon” moniker I use here because I can be such a stubborn Luddite when it comes to internet trends. I also felt a little guilty after writing this because my sister was one of the people who welcomed me back to Facebook but she is absolutely innocent of any of the non-communicative charges I leveled against pretty much everyone. And, of course, my extended family is a tad more nuanced than I implied, but you know…how many disclaimers can one cram into a single post without killing the vibe? By the way, I think you might have discovered the actual chemical formula for the toxic element that will be the downfall of mankind: FbDjT. More volatile than uranium. I’ll go ahead and nominate you to be the recipient of this year’s Nobel Prize for scientific achievement..

      Liked by 1 person

      1. HAHA! You just made me laugh super hard! I am going to start working on my speech and will try to keep it clean – probably won’t happen. Honestly, I totally got every bit of this post and am with you 100%. People have forgotten how to be people and don’t even know how to connect anymore (glad your sister is not in this category). They worry about things like, ‘how come I didn’t get more likes on the photo I posted of what I ate for dinner last night?’! It’s terrifying! And kids are wasting all their time online instead of building rock forts in the back yard. It’s so sad. Anyway, stay you and never give in to the trends. You are way cooler!

        Liked by 1 person

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