BookFace

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A couple of moose, Montana, 2010.  Photo by the author.

Last evening, in something of a pique, I decided to downgrade my presence on the Book of Face.  My existence there was experimental–I opened the account for selfish reasons to begin with–an attempt to broaden the audience for my writing–and am stepping far back for equally selfish reasons:  the preservation of my mind.

Once, I wrote a piece for The Nugget News that was derided by at least one reader as “a rant against connectivity.”  Fair enough, though that bent is a misunderstanding of what connections actually are, or at least a failure to embrace their realized potential.  The virtual relationships of Facebook are not to be confused with actual connections because they are, at best, partial.

And why is connectivity, understood in its virtual meaning, so great and desirable anyway?

Rick Bass, for my money one of our finest writers, might have articulated my feelings about Facebook best when he wrote this, in his essay On Willow Creek:  “What happens to us when all the sacred, all the whole, is gone–when there is no more whole?  There will be only fragments of stories, fragments of culture, fragments of integrity.”

And that is what I find repulsive about Facebook.  It exists in fragments, which by their very nature lack integrity.  Memes, short and badly contextualized videos, occasional rants, and always the underlying insistence on the contributor’s absolute and wholly realized righteousness.  It is an endless narrative, endlessly shotgunned into meaningless patterns and entirely lacking the whole.  In fact, I would argue that Facebook works entirely against notions of approaching anything whole at all.  Who has time to look at the whole, after all?  Facebook is, in many ways, the ultimate deconstruction machine, a virtual woodchipper, grinding the whole into meaningless piles.

And lately–timing has never been my strongest suit–it has been inundated by political fragments, shards even, that do nothing at all to solve the difficult equations facing us all, but instead exist to incite the basest emotional reactions–which are then attacked from various quarters by equally fragmentary and even more angry one-upmanship.  Meme after meme, non-sequitur after non-sequitur, the book of face marches one and all into some kind of intellectual and emotional oblivion.

So I need a break.  I realize that it can be a tool, and like any tool it requires some discipline to use it correctly.  Thus far, I have not used it correctly, and it might just be that after some time away I will return, ready for another round of punishment.  Selfishly, I should quit more often, because after making my squalid announcement the sign-ups for this blog jumped.

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Near Red Lodge, Montana

In the meantime, I have found myself with more time.  And I think that is something else that Facebook does, so insidiously.  It swallows time.  It fills space.  We are a culture increasingly uncomfortable with silences, the long pauses, and grasp almost desperately for anything that will fill the contemplative gaps between activities.  We meet more and more people for whom silence, or stillness, exists as a terrifying faraway land, a modern version of the old tales of Gog and Magog, where men grow 9 feet tall and eat their children.  Silence seems to have become the land of the savage northmen.

It isn’t.  A good pipe full of tobacco, a decent book, and a hot cup of tea go much farther in filling those spaces than another round of angry memes about the electoral college, or which politician should be in jail–which is probably just all of them.  So I am looking forward to getting back to that place where I once was…one guy in amongst the trees, toiling in the rain shadow of the Cascades, working each day to make our little ranch productive in a meaningful way, and quietly looking for better ways to live wholly, and with vision, and compassion, on this shrinking planet.

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14 thoughts on “BookFace

  1. I’m not on Facebook because I believe lost friends from high school are lost for a reason and should remain that way.

    Social media swallows time, and I commend you for taking control of yours away from Facebook. Now if I could just do the same with Twitter…

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    • The principle benefit was reconnecting with my Marine buddies. But we now have better avenues. It’s fascinating how the social media thing sets a hook, and keeps pulling. Good luck with Twitter, I never went there, and with this warning won’t. 🙂

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  2. A fine piece of writing. My sentiments exactly, but I hadn’t been able to formulate them in such a coherent way. Even old Old Aldo Leopold saw it coming in the 1940’s ; “Civilization has so cluttered this elemental man-earth relationship with gadgets and middlemen that awareness of it is growing dim. We fancy that industry supports us, forgetting what supports industry.” Technology is fine when we use it right, but so many folks are being used by it and for own tirades (although there is nothing wrong with a good tirade now and then, but not every day.).

    On Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 11:24 AM, The Bunkhouse Chronicle wrote:

    > Craig Rullman posted: ” Last evening, in something of a pique, I decided > to downgrade my presence on the Book of Face. My existence there was > experimental–I opened the account for selfish reasons to begin with–an > attempt to broaden the audience for my writing–and am steppin” >

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    • Yes. It is the middlemen that I am trying to reduce or eliminate, to the extent possible. More and more I have an awareness of, and appreciation for, the finite nature of our time here. Seconds count. No one likes to sound his “barbaric yawp” more than I, but I want to be more precise when I do it.

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  3. Craig…
    My immediate response is that any of the social media platforms are a vortex drawing in a scary reality of how some people really do feel and think. It ain’t always pretty, that’s for sure. You have to know what to skip past even though you must endure those memes and such on the journey. I got on it for the typical reasons of family, etc. but rarely participated until recently with regular postings. A discipline to hone my efforts with developing a public presence of sorts. Maybe I was feeling guilty for being a voyeur only. You definitely have to sharpen your culling skills. I only view and participate in three blogs and this is one of three. The expectations get burdensome and being honest without being offensive is always a tightrope walk. I was 90 % on the way to completing a very involved website, but suspended my efforts. My thoughts now are that a book makes more sense. Forever there. No maintenance. I am no Luddite by any stretch, but what is good is good. FB is free ( and cheap ) but the founder is a mult-billionaire many times over. Yeah, he got over on us too. I am putting up a daily page ( for now ) but I do have a revulsion with it. I am giving it an effort for now anyway. I also gave up shooting film a ways back and begrudgingly went to digital which has greatly improved since I dove in. I still view film as a living thing by comparison, but the creative aspects digital allowed ( cheaply ) opened things up exponentially. FB on the other hand has opened a Pandora’s Box by the hand of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Read into that what you will. You can even send out a Twitter if you so choose. Many do. For my money I like InstaGram for photos even though SnapChat is all the rage. I have my own personal rage. The rage is in the machine and the ghost too…
    My sympathy and empathy both go out to your dilemma Craig!

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    • They are definitely a vortex. It’s the constant skipping past that I’ve grown weary of. Certainly there have been some great finds on the medium, the occasional great post, but they are needles in the big virtual haystack. I am with you on the film/digital crossover too. I loved the process of film–very much alive–and only reluctantly went to digital, and comparatively later than most. I recognize the value some of these tools might have, but need to learn better how to employ them–which is as much a spiritual process as anything else. It’s not likely I’ll stay away forever, but when I return it will be with more discipline and a sense of purpose. And do the book, many of us want to hear from you at length, and suspect there are many excellent and insightful tales in the offing. Thanks for reading, and safe travels…

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  4. Well done and well said!! I personally will miss seeing the beautiful pictures you have posted of family, friends and scenery, but luckily for me, I have the blog for your writing talents. All the best to you and your family.

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  5. I love this article thank you ! I must say it opened my eyes a bit wider this morning and I agree with what you have said. Thank you

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  6. Craig…

    ” A good pipe full of tobacco, a decent book, and a hot cup of tea go much farther in filling those spaces than another round of angry memes […] ”

    I most heartily agree as a satisfying remedy to the ongoing madness.

    If I may, coming up is another quote that may be fitting in my taking a “About Face” position on the Book of Face. I am hoping we can somehow sharpen the other edge of a two-edged sword in elevating this possible thief of culture. There is advantage in everything ( I hope ) and am counting on it. Both originality and value are a moral imperatives however. No doubt it has always been this way to a degree, but today it seems it has blown up into a umitigated free for all without restraint or good taste and any real value. Your spiritual criteria must inform your choice of course. As the saying goes do as you want but please God [ Always ]. Therein lies the rub. I say that only as a philosophical guideline and not as a religious mandate. Freedom has run amok. One should not be overly judgmental of course but there comes a time. There has come a time for me and it appears that reasonable restraints have come unleashed and narcissism runs rampent. This is what flys in the face every time I visit that place called The Book of Face. It has forced me to recognize the red flags and avoiding getting sucked into the abyss of empty headed agendas. It can be very tiring slogging through the mess. I limit it accordingly. So now I offer up a warning of sorts of what we seem to be up against more than ever and must attempt to improve upon as best we can:

    “ The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. ”

    — GEORGE BERNARD SHAW

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  7. P.S. From C.S. :

    ” You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. ”

    — C.S. Lewis

    As far as a pipeful you are on your own. I trust your judgement and thanks for all varieties of encouragement…

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