Saturday, January 19, 2019

Tale of two facebook sites

Being new to the community and all (having been here only 2 1/2 years), I am not inclined to set myself up as an authority on how small towns of under 800 behave and speak in public. I think these are intense and shrill times, when an increasingly desperate minority, having invested their trust and votes in Trump, find it increasingly obvious that he was a felon, robbed and tricked them, and will probably bring the Republican Party down with him. This does not make them any less desperate; still, as a strong majority in this area, get these folks together, and what will they have in common: they like the wall; they hate the Dems; they hate Pelosi, etc. I can handle that. I think most of them are by and large still really nice people, generous, honest, and straightforward. I join their site in order to get to know them.

So my tale starts with the first site, Cloudcroft Community, where the moderator (S.S.) is sensitive about the town's image, and doesn't want to get involved in trolling or political disputes. Politics is prohibited, and even discussion about how one of the town's restaurants has gone bad is discouraged, since it makes the town look bad. The simple fact of the matter is that, in a town of <800, you have a few people who are frustrated at the lack of restaurant options (you don't move here for the restaurants), on top of the general blunt rural directness that tends to offend anyone who's not used to it. Several things were said on this site and S.S. did her best to temper them, reminding everyone that lots of people on the site were from Texas and just wanted to keep abreast of community developments.

In fact the word "Texans" itself turns out to be slightly charged, since locals, in their ordinary day-to-day conversation, tend to blame Texans for everything from littered campsites to beheaded elk, and even when they use the word, it has an undercurrent to it that you can't quite place but know is not entirely good. The fact is, it's a complicated relationship; we're a tourist town, and rely on Texans to a great degree; they have money, have an economy, and have riches we'll never experience except through them; many of us (including me) came here from Texas and feel both the pleasure of no longer being one, and the pain of giving up the good things that it represented. So I can't quite accuse everyone of being anti-Texan, yet shades of it come out often enough that one Texan posted on the board that he wanted to move here and retire here, but has changed his mind based on what he read.

To get back to the two sites, S.S. was basically trying to keep her site civil, and friendly, and put a good face on the village, so J.C. decided that what we needed was an "Uncensored" site, and being young but retired, set one up. The first thing that would be permitted was pro-Trump, pro-wall memes, and the first people who took the word "Uncensored" seriously and said anything bad about these, got trolled immediately. Now generally a discussion is over the second one person calls another a name, and this happened fairly quickly; once we are calling each other "di**head," as J.C. called the most recent liberal on the site, it's over. He's gone. He's not going to fight a moderator, and if he does, seriously, they just give him the boot.

Actually I think J.C. intended to let a few liberals say whatever they wanted; I think he even said so publicly. He's not a bad guy, it's just that that's how he feels, and if you come near him and say liberal things, he'll let you have it. That's the way I interpret it anyway. To him, "uncensored" means he can say how he feels about your opinions, and no other moderator will tell him to temper those feelings.

The first liberal interloper that made an impression on me was a guy who actually tried to use reason in his arguments; I can no longer remember the topic. I remember that he gave a thoughtful comment outlining his reasons for whatever it was, and they were not well received. Another thing I remember is that this particular spat came right when the "Uncensored" site was being formed, and was carried out on both sites; in other words, I'm not sure when the name-calling started, but it might have been on either site. This guy thought he could mix in, use reason, and provide arguments for whatever his cause. Yes, at the risk of being called names, I guess, as reason is not something that people seek in this kind of situation. My only hope is that these things don't escalate, and that these guys aren't out looking for each other with a loaded gun. It's kind of like the middle finger in a Texas traffic jam - lives are lost over less. Sometimes it's better to bite one's tongue, as, do you really think reason is going to change someone's mind?

The second was actually S.S., herself, the moderator of the first site, who couldn't resist coming into the second one and testing J.C.'s sincerity in being "uncensored" and allowing some liberals to freely express their opinion. As a moderator who had learned too much about both moderating, and the nature of her community, she was interested in his site and what it became, and what he did about various problems she'd had. In addition, my guess is that a lot of these people are pretty good friends from before the days of facebook; if you know any of them personally, you know that they are as friendly as people can be. So I have no doubt that some of this ribbing is good-natured, as friends would do with each other, fully intending to stay friends afterward. And the first thing she ribbed him about was that he'd already kicked a couple of people off his site, one being the liberal (first interloper) who had called him a name.

The second time she came into his site, they were talking about how Trump had got Pelosi by denying her her flight, and S.S. jumped in to say, what about Melania. I could practically hear the silence on the part of the dozen or so friends of J.C., all pretty conservative and ready to troll someone, wondering who would go first. They are for the most part gentlemen, unwilling to call a woman a vulgar name, but they include some women, and one jumped in to say that Melania is on Secret Service, so that doesn't count. We could call this polite discourse, a reasonable working out of differing opinions (after all, the left would maintain that the government's paying to send Melania to Mar-a-Lago is hypocrisy) - and the story isn't over yet. Maybe S.S. is satisfied to put forward her opinion and let it sit there. It is, in fact, uncensored. J.C. left it there, and I believe he's sincere in saying that he doesn't mind a few liberals ("libtards," his friends would call them) on his site, as long as they behave. Such liberal comments dangle like ornaments on a dump-bound christmas tree: one wonders how long it can stay there until someone notices and does away with them.  Some will go away naturally; the site produces memes at a rate of a dozen or more a day, and things move down fairly quickly. But most of the people we're talking about can't sit and bear a liberal comment, or let it go unaddressed.

The third one provoked them enough that even J.C. called him a "di**head," and I think there were worse names that may have in fact been censored. I don't think you can go all the way and have a truly uncensored site. For example, I don't think you can promote the killing of an American politician, or promote revolution, or say things that call for the destruction of life as we know it. There are some things that are illegal to say, and others that are just morally reprehensible, and there are some that will lead others to come find you and do harm. So I say, let's not pretend that anything is "uncensored," and let's carry on like neighbors who have to sustain and maintain a beautiful little mountain village.

The last guy was sharp-edged enough that he really brought out the worst in my neighbors, I'm sorry to say. One guy went into his personal site, saw the picture, came back and teased him about his "man-bun;" others joined in, as this kind of thing obviously doesn't go over well with this crowd. When the guy mentioned that he was going to an Ivy-League college, and was going to make buckets of money, that didn't help much. One local told him straight out that he wasn't welcome around here; I'm not sure if this was a reaction to the man-bun, to his ivy league nature, or to the general sharpness of his comments, but by this point we had reached a pretty hostile exchange and the "di**head" wasn't long in coming.

In any case, it has been pointed out by many that the "Uncensored" site is thoroughly dominated by pro-Trump memes; it's not really a place for open discussion or uncensored comments; and that to some degree, it's like J.C., the moderator's, kitchen table: the main rule is, don't cross J.C., because he's the host. To a number of his friends, this is no problem, since they know him, and he's a nice guy, and he'd give them plenty of latitude in any case. There is a wide swath of us who would never get past the elk humping on the profile, or who see all the Trump memes and say, this would simply make my blood boil. From the outside, it looks like a closed club, pretty hostile to outsiders and not the kind of place you would want to enter into a real discussion about issues.

I have become increasingly fascinated with it, though, because these are my neighbors. I think it's true USA, blunt and coarse, rural by nature, unfettered by politeness though not, generally, common decency. There is incredible wisdom and resources in these folks, if you get them talking about elk rutting season or how to survive out in the mountains. I need these folks if I am going to live out here, and I need them not to say I'm not welcome here, which much to their credit, I haven't heard yet. My account here is not intended to make them mad; it's a straightforward account of what I've seen and read.  We are in volatile times. I feel that to some degree, the behavior of the Trump-supporters is inevitable, given that their candidate has brought ruin onto their views, their political power, and their future. And this is a shame, to some degree, because conservativism by itself is a philosophy, and voice, that should not be drowned out. But it will be, because nationwide, conservatives have been drawn into supporting a con-man, a grifter, a liar, a thief. I hope the way of life, the stubborn resourcefulness, the good things about this culture don't go with him; that's all I can say.

I actually have something important to say about the wall. All these guys are envisioning a wall, complete with a walkway on top, all big and beautiful, all tall enough to withstand a good ladder, etc. etc., and they have gone to enough trouble to picture it and perhaps even figure out how much five billion would buy in this respect. My main point is, it would last all of three to six months, until the onset of drones, which some say has already happened. Drones are now being used by the drug lords, but not yet by the human smugglers, but in any case, a wall that would now catch maybe 20% of immigrants, would catch less than 3% within a year or two anyway. To me, the whole wall is a massive monument to the fear of the white community, and to Trump, who represents them.

But the fear itself is real. The white community is shrinking in its power and dominance, and tribalism has ensured that it defend itself now, before it's too late. Whites are now a minority in places like California (they have always been a minority here) and Texas, but also New York, Illinois, and even Florida; using purely racial politics, it would be impossible for them to win an election <i>without</i> cheating, vote fraud, massive facebook manipulation, etc. The fear is real. When you reach a point where you are not really addressing reason, or the actual effect the wall would have, or the degree to which it would actually change the immigration picture, then you know that, basically, what we need to do is address this fear, not throw five billion at it and sneer at anyone who disagrees. I don't feel like a traitor to the white race when I say, this country was built on immigrants; we need brave and clever people to ensure a good future; and we should not devolve into a race war where we try to eliminate non-white immigrants altogether. At some point we should choose whether we are a great and welcoming country, or whether we are white and narrow country, and I hope we choose the former. But that's because I'm a libtard. And I wouldn't say that on this site, at least not yet.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Meet the Author, July 4 2018

I had some friends who asked me how my Meet the Author / Book Signing went. Fine, I said. I sat up on the balcony of the Imaginary Books, and played my banjo, while a cool drizzly rain came through Cloudcroft, and basically I tried to figure out how I could spend the rest of my life on such a balcony, it was so nice.

That doesn't tell you how my sales went, or whether I am becoming a famous author, or even whether anyone in the Cloudcroft area is reading my books. A couple people are, maybe. I came home with ten bucks, and it all came from a friend of mine, who requested that the extra three (my books are worth seven) be spent on animals; no problem, it already has. maybe this friend will read that book. maybe some people read the posters or at least became aware that i am here, peddling my books, trying to establish an identity as an author. but most people clearly went about their lives as they already had intended, and didn't even look up.

I talked to Ed for a while, and probably should have warned him, that because I write as a way of processing events and developing opinions about them, he would probably appear in my writing eventually. He too is a writer, and a former teacher, and now seems to be selling a few books. He told about how he was in the Pine Stump Mall, over by Dave's, but lucked out when fire swept the place about six or seven years ago, and moved over to the Burro Street Exchange when he could. He said that the businesses downtown have expanded to take up more space; that, in terms of businesses alone, Cloudcroft has grown. But, unlike Ruidoso, which has simply expanded into the nearby hills, Cloudcroft is penned in by national forest, and not expanding anywhere, so it's still the same size, in terms of houses, that it's always been. I said this is certainly true from my point of view, and in fact I have heard of people struggling to find places to rent; there just aren't any.

A cool drizzle came through as apparently now it's the monsoon season. I played the banjo and a few people raised their eyebrows; some even posed me with a bear statue that they had taken from their mom's cabin. Tourists were all over the place, some asking when they'd rope off the street and start the music (this had apparently already happened, the weekend before). Flags were everywhere; people even wore them; Ed even wore one, basically. I didn't hear a bad word. As I've said, I wouldn't mind spending the rest of summer, even the rest of life, up on a balcony like that.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

meet the author - success!

view from ed's balcony

hey I know this isn't Cloudcroft at its best - and I know that you may know who this is, or what it's doing at the Western Bar. This person appears to be on both sides - maybe he/she doesn't realize that confederates and USA were on opposites sides in that war - but I'm sure he would say, "heritage not hate," or, "you can be both," since the war is over.

there's more to life than this so I'll stop here. He did it, I took a picture. "Kandinsky" had something to do with it too.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Meet the Author

Wed., July 4, 2018
Imaginary Bookstore
Cloudcroft NM