Brass balls, balls of steel, big ones, they’re all gone. In fact, nobody has any balls anymore. You’ve been neutered by technology, by peer pressure, by industry standards, by political correctness, by pseudo-manners, by boundaries, by safe zones, by candy-shell egos and soft hearts. The world has kicked the sack of the last great bearer of balls and now you suffer. You suffer a milk-toast existence where no one takes chances.
You live mediocre lives, dredging out your being, nine to five, Monday through Friday, home in time for dinner and a show (primetime laugh tracks and editorial news), paying bills while hiding behind virtual selves on an imaginary planet fueled by fiber and bandwidth. You care less about the hot blood pumping through your veins and care more about the cold gigabytes streaming through your homes.
Tweets, statuses, selfies and snapchats, are today’s headline news for the faint of heart. The meme is a dullard’s propaganda and substance a waste of time. No one is a critic and everyone is a critic, but the criticism has no foundation. It’s meaningless and your words drown in the pouring rain, soaked with bitterness, disappointment and boredom. So, you play it safe and everyone you come in contact with plays it safe and nothing gets done, no great art, no great movements, no history, no future, no true love.
Having likes has taken precedence over admiration, real love, real friendship, real life. In an effort to connect, you’ve become more disconnected. You’ve become more opinionated in a virtual world that doesn’t care about opinions. You shout from your couches, but no one hears you. Real life passes by and you smile and wave to her, hoping she doesn’t stop to talk. And what about real life? She’s a bitch. She’s always been a bitch and she always will be. But she has to love you, because you love her. So, you walk on eggshells around her rather than forcing yourselves upon her, because that would be wrong. You are a neutered society, eunuchs no longer having the ability to create, to master, to live passionately. Woe to you oh lost tribes of the human race! Woe to your children, to your marriages, to your friendships, to your works, to your cultures, to your cities on hills and to the future! Ask not for whom the brass balls of history toll, they toll for thee.
On February 1st, I announced to all my friends and family and acquaintances that I was shutting down my private Facebook page at the end of the month. However, I was keeping my public page, my professional page, active and if anyone wanted to stay informed or might possibly want to send me death threats, then they would have to like my professional page. Now some may say that this was just a way to get more people to like my page, which by the way is www.facebook.com/gwallisonjr. But they are wrong. This blog is a way to get people to do that, though. So, click the link above and join the party. I did, however, have some friends ask why I was shutting down my private page. And to put it plainly, it’s to save the work.
Many reasons went into this decision. Among them was the simple fact regarding privacy. I had grown tired of putting my life out there for display. I know that I didn’t have to, but in order to stay engaged and, dare I say, relevant, you have to put yourself out there. It was exhausting. Additionally, anyone could search or stumble across my page despite the privacy settings I had in place. If you were a friend of a friend, then you could possibly see just about everything pertaining to my life. That’s out there, man, and I wasn’t digging it.
But the absolute must do reason is the work. Social media is a great tool. It’s great for staying in touch with people around the world. It’s great for sharing life experiences. It’s great for promoting or selling. But it is also a trap.
I work in a peculiar vocation. I am a writer. I create worlds with words. I don’t paint. I don’t make films. I don’t dance. I don’t sing. I don’t play an instrument. I am a writer. Social media for other artists is a form of display. However, for the writer, it is a vacuum. It sucks the mojo from our souls, deflates the muse, arrests the spirit. Most of social media is made up of words and when I, as a writer, use my written words on something other than my art, I waste them. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was robbing my own house.
I don’t mean to sound pretentious. I’m far too self-loathing to do that. But it is true that if you talk about it, you lose it. My thoughts, fears, observations, hatred, love, and anger belong on paper; not Facebook. And this is why I’m shutting down. To save the work.
When my son was five years old, my wife and I attempted to teach him how to ride a bike without training wheels. I say attempted because he was a hard case. My son had a flare for the dramatics. We called him the sheriff as he would consistently point out whatever you were doing wrong with a sort of Shakespearean rebuke of word and gesture. He was also bullheaded about everything, almost militant. But he was also a fun child, always wearing some sort of costume and forever in make believe. All this made a perfect dramatic soup, if you will. For example, when he were in a moment of despair, be it injury or mental anguish, he would dramatically toss his body upon the ground and cry out with such conviction you couldn’t help but applaud. So, there we were, attempting to teach him how to ride a bike minus the training wheels.
Naturally, the boy fell a few times. Nothing serious, a few minor drops. He was still on board with the idea of careening down a street with nothing but two wheels and steel underneath him. I kept encouraging him and telling him that there was freedom in bike riding, that all the kids in the neighborhood had bikes, and that it was the best thing he could ever do with his life. Then it happened. He biffed and he biffed hard. We’re talking dirt, gravel and grass. He flailed around like a dying fish, crying out his woes for humanity. His heart was a tiny Hindenburg bursting into flames, taking all his hopes and dreams with it. That was the end of it. He wanted nothing to do with bike riding ever again. It was stupid.
Revenge of the Sith
I introduced my son to Star Wars as early as possible. It was big when I was a boy and I looked forward to sharing it with him. He took to the magical world of Jedis and Siths and droids and Stormtroopers and Wookies with such little effort, it was as if he were born to be a fan. We wore out the VHS copies of the original trilogy and when the first two prequels came out on DVD, he devoured them. So, when Revenge of the Sith was released in theaters, it was a big deal. He was old enough to see Star Wars on the big screen for the first time. It was all he talked about. He couldn’t stand the wait. My son was in a constant pee pee dance. I’m not exaggerating. He would get so excited that I would have to ask him if he needed to go to the bathroom. He didn’t, but man, that’s an excitement I wish I still had. But, there was still the issue of the bike.
I don’t know about you, but I thought it almost criminal if my child didn’t know how to ride a bicycle. His sister could and she was the clumsiest little girl I’ve ever known. Yet, somehow, the concept escaped him. No, that’s not right. He understood the concept. What he had was a bad case of the can’ts.
He was held back by fear. You know the fear I’m talking about. The fear of injury, the fear of disappointment, the fear of people making fun of you, the fear of failure. This was a defining moment in his life and he didn’t even know it. And it was up to me to lead him through it. This was his hero’s journey, his reconciliation and acceptance off the power of the Force. This was his destiny. So, I did what any good dad would do. I told him that he couldn’t see Star Wars until he learned how to ride a bike.
This is one of my favorite memories of him as a little boy. Obviously, he was very upset by this new contingency and if he had a jury of his peers to argue before, I’m sure they would have rendered a favorable verdict on his behalf. But, alas, he was alone and I was a hard judge. The question “Why?” was asked repeatedly, as I recall. Also, it wasn’t fair, according to the sheriff. Eventually, he accepted his fate and with tears streaming down his face and wailing like a fire engine, this little boy rode his bike in a circle for a half-hour in the driveway, never falling not even once. Little did he realize how strong the Force was in him. I wish I would have videotaped it.
The Force is also strong in you. I think it was Henry Ford who said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t. Not even you.