Welcome my "friend" Tim Willard, an upright fella who recently co-authored an upright book, Home Behind the Sun: Connect With God in the Brilliance of the Everyday. (Have you read this yet? GRAB A COPY!) Tim has made a habit of dropping creative "10 Things" posts in the last few months, and each one is good for a chuckle. I hope you enjoy today's piece, a piece which deals with "internet friends," and the "frumious bandersnatch." (Bonus points for those of you who are familiar with Lewis Carroll's fictional character.)
Ten Things I Think About “Internet Friends”
1. I Think Bandersnatches Are More Real Than Facebook Friends.
a. Just last evening I was walking across the Bifrost Bridge that spans the Great Sea of Shining Waters and there, floating on its back, sneered a Bandersnatch. Now, I’m no fool, I know better than to cross a Bandersnatch. So, I slowed my pace on the Bifrost Bridge so as not to annoy the Bandersnatch or incite it’s fierce disposition.
b. But my pussyfootedness failed me. The Bandersnatch growled a low hideous growl, flipped over on its rotund tummy and swam to shore. I entered into a full sprint, hoping to reach the end of the bridge before the Bandersnatch could block my passage.
c. Alas! It was too late. There it squatted, its flab gathering around its ankles and drool hanging from its enormous green bottom lip. I stopped in my tracks.
d. “Please, good Bandersnatch, I must pass the Bifrost Bridge for I have Facebook Friends I must speak to--er, post to. Please do not eat me.”
e. “Post to?” said the Bandersnatch, smacking his jaws together. “But there is no one to post to today, Dear Timothy. for I have eaten every last one. Why do you think my tummy sits so low and my breath reeks of …”
f. What proceeded between the Bandersnatch and myself was, in fact, a sharp but enlightening conversation about overeating the flesh of humans compared to gorging on the digital dross of Facebook.
“Think for a moment--Gurp!--how delightful this real-in-the-flesh meeting on the Bifrost Bridge has been and what it has done for our daily invigoration of life; the energy, the hot-iron discussion, the tension of impending doom. There you were, clamouring on, hoping to sit in a solitary place in order to “post” when there I stood before you, all gorged and blubbery, juicy and slobbering. You and I, we are real,” he guffawed, “those to whom you post? Apparition!”
2. I Think The Bandersnatch Spoke Truth
a. Between the “Gurps!” and the guffaws of the Bandersnatch, I began to see truth form in the misty air between us. In a magic column it rose and spun, it showered me with a watery freshness. Or perhaps it was just the spray from the waterfall playing tricks in the sunlight. Either way, the words of Bandersnatch penetrated the deep reservoir of my psyche.
b. “I can see that my words are getting somewhere, yes?”
c. “Yes,” I replied.
d. “Think more, then. Think about your divided self. Ah, you make a funny face when I say ‘divided self’ but is it really that funny? Do you think it nothing more than a philosophical play on a psychological insight? You are divided.”
e. “I don’t see how posting on Facebook divides me. I am not a human metaphor. I am … real."
f. “Yes your flesh is real, but how do you describe that indescribable something within you; that pull towards the mist in front of you, that thing that gave you goose bumps when you saw me floating pleasantly on my spiny back in the water.
Your body, of course, does not split into pieces, but your soul, your soul, your soul. You deposit it into unreal places, trapping it for the world to see.”
3. I Think That The Bandersnatch Was Getting Hungry At This Point
a. I could see it in his eyes; especially when he talking about my body and soul, my soul, my soul, my soul.
4. I Think Here Are The Essentials To Remember When Conversing With A Bandersnatch.
a. They are quicker than you think.
b. They don’t care about the Neo-Calvinist movement.
c. They like to pick their teeth with buttercups while talking philosophy.
d. They enjoy their obesity and relative sloth.
e. They have read Martin Buber.
f. They have not read Heany.
g. They make frequent allusions to Eliot’s The Waste Land
h. They are quite jovial, until you contradict them.
i. They smell like a dung heap.
5. I Think By This Time, It Was Time To Make My Move
a. “But so what, “ I said. “Just because I use a social medium to deposit thoughts and pictures of myself doesn’t mean that I’m becoming less of a person. Besides, everyone does it now. It’s a common cultural language that offers much good.”
b. “Offers much good? That is rich. We can justify just about any tool if we use utilitarian terms and concepts to support our hypotheses. Why, just the other day I use this here short sword to gut my neighbor’s pigs because they were making too much noise.”
c. You must excuse the Bandersnatch’s vulgarity. After all he is a creature of much dark renown. He knows no better.
d. “Yes, yes. I gutted them and tossed them to the crows. I didn’t even eat them. There they were, perfectly good swine left for the vultures. Indeed, this little sword did me much good that day.”
e. “That is not the same,” I retorted.
f. “Is it not?”
g. Just then, I realized I had contradicted the Bandersnatch.
6. I Think The Bandersnatch Was Right And I Really Had No Move
a. “It is not the tool, fleshling, that offers much good. It is the person using the tool. I can dig or kill with my short sword. And it is the same with your social media. I don’t know a Bandersnatch that would disagree.”
b. I was relieved he wasn’t rumbling towards me to eat me alive.
c. “My point, however, is not that it does or does not offer much good, it’s that over time it pulls you away from the realness of life. Then suddenly, one day, you find yourself thirsty for realness once more. You’ve posted for your causes, you’ve made folks aware, you’ve posted you children jumping and laughing, you’ve browsed for people to quote-un-quote interact with, meanwhile, your relationships around you flounder. You steal time from your family. You stop doing things … real things like walking across the Bifrost Bridge and talking to the likes of me.
7. I Think I Have To Admit, The Bandersnatch Was Making Sense
a. “Yes, I can see that. You are wise not to harp on the use of tools but rather the intent and vitality of people.”
b. “Well, that is to be expected. After all, I am a Bandersnatch.”
c. Just then, he started to rumble towards me.
8. I Think That A Bandersnatch Rumbling Towards You Looks Like Real Life
a. He came, slobbering and YAWPING.
b. “And now, fleshling, I will remind you of my intent and vitality!”
c. His eyes flashed red, and his belly bounced off the grounded so rapidly that it looked as if it was in slow motion.
9. I Think The Last Thing I Remember Was …
a. Hearing the crack of bone and the pain of real life seizing my soul, my soul, my soul.
b. We must have both launched off the Bifrost Bridge upon impact because I remember hearing water come up and over my ears and the gurgled sounds of the Bandersnacth YAWPING, “Do you feel like your self is divided now? Do you feel? Do you feel! This is the way the world ends, the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper!”
10. I Think I Woke Up In A Cold Sweat, My MacBook Air Open Upon My Lap
a. The Facebook login page stared at me, but all I could see were the eyes of the Bandersnatch.
b. My phone rattled beside me on the table--pulling at me in its own way. Then I heard a voice.
c. “Hey Daddy, we’re going on a walk. Want to come?”
d. I left the device where they glowed. And ran out of the front door.
e. “Yeah, I’m coming! I wonder if we’ll see an Bandersnatches.”