As you are all well aware, the Marines United Facebook scandal that has recently rocked the Corps brought the online Veteran community into the spotlight. But confession time, I think I was actually a member of Marines United for some period of time. You see, as a blogger emerging into this sphere it was actually advantageous for me to join as many groups and follow as many pages as possible in order to share my posts. And truthfully, prior to starting this blog I had no idea the whole online Vet community existed. Some two years into this project though I began to feel a heavy burden. Not the same one Obi Wan felt when Alderan was destroyed, but something similar. Namely that millions of Veteran lives were being vanquished into online personalities and groups, mine included. So I did the only logical think I could think of and I purged. I dropped about 3/4ths of the Veteran, Political, and controversial pages I had picked up since blogging. And I have to tell you, I feel really good about it. Make what you will of it, but when I changed my FB feed my demeanor altered with it. Moreover, I’m going tell you now loud and proud that if at the end of this article you feel like dropping Unprecedented Mediocrity that you are doing the right thing. Promise to write me from time to time, but get out of here big guy. See you on the flip side.
The Online Veteran Community
Please don’t take what I am saying as some sort of betrayal to my fellow online vets as they are largely responsible for the reason you found this blog. But just like a cool drink of water, too much water will choke you and social media is no different. Many are great and you should keep them, but perhaps just a few. I spent a good 10 years post Iraq without tapping into the online Vet community and when I did it was exhilarating. The reminiscence of field talk, the fellowship, and the pointless debates about peanut butter versus jalapeno cheese. It’s jalapeno cheese and if you are the madman who thinks otherwise I can only pray you are close by come chow time but far away in a firefight.
But full confession, something changed in me the longer I lingered and perused the past more than the future. For over 10 years I had enjoyed my post war career and life with nostalgic and musing thought of the past and yet now, I began to see and dwell on it every day. And to be quite honest, a few years in it began to depress me. No longer would I live that life and, in fact, no longer could I even fit into my Dress Blues. I haven’t gone full Fat Bastard since I left the USMC, but I’ve hardly kept up the PT that would enable me to put that sexy uniform that turned your arms into those of a T-Rex when you are trying to reach for the salt at the Marine Corps Ball.
So I had to cut it out and while I still follow many I began to become a little more discerning. I won’t say which ones I dropped because I’d never do that to a fellow Veteran Venture. But I will say that I kept those that allowed me to muse about the past while looking forward to the future. Doctrine Man is one in particular that I still follow as an example. Pensive, veteran oriented, and yet not overly partisan. But there are hundreds, if not a thousand, Vet oriented pages and brothers if your feed is full of them you need to ask yourself what that is doing to your soul. Let’s talk a few Facebook realities and human nature.
The Human Condition
As much as we like to think Veterans are born from the depths of Sparta and fathered by Achilles, the truth is that most of us came into existence because our parents got horny at a Willie Nelson concert. Or perhaps Nsync for you younger guys. We might have later joined and been shaped into great lineage of warfighters but our human nature is pretty much the same. And the science is in, Facebook depresses people. It’s the world sharing the most shareable moments in life and throwing it in our face at the same time.
Meanwhile, you just got passed over for promotion and you had your first non-whiskey induced case of erectile dysfunction with the wife. Both hypothetical, I promise. And in the case of the Vet community, it’s the world sharing the most memorable moments of our past in your face all the time. The only problem is that it’s the past, one you won’t live again, and perhaps that’s less than helpful all the time. In one sense us GWOT guys have been thankful to have this tool, but perhaps it has also been a hindrance towards moving on like many generations past because they didn’t have the option to continually look back. It’s at least an honest question to ask.
We have an endless array of Veteran sites oriented around the drinking culture that permeates the military. Nothing wrong with that as a good drink is indeed a gift. But guys, if you are close to downing a fifth a day while your life collapses around you may be you change your feed to something more aligned with the future you want. I know we have the 22 a day veteran suicide stigma, but don’t underestimate the slow subtle suicide that alcohol produces. Maybe your job sucks because civilians don’t understand or perhaps downing a fifth a day has inhibited your ability to do your job well. A toast to your fellow Veteran is nice, but I’d love to hear more stories about Veterans in recovery fighting the good fight so they can support their fellow vets in that same venture. Did Jack, Jim and Jose almost kill you and you survived? Tell us your stories brothers because we are human.
Look, it’s the same with politics, family drama, or the veteran community. If all your Facebook feed does is reinforce your current political thought without challenging it you might be missing out. If all you do is consume your Facebook feed with family or friend drama, it might affect your outlook on the world. I have family members I didn’t unfriend, but definitely unfollowed. I don’t think she will be bothered because at the rate she shares “Jesus will bless you if you share this post” type stuff she is all set with divine intervention. I do love Jesus, but I’m banking my future on his sufficient grace more than my social media savvy.
Look, I feel and think better since I purged and it wasn’t limited to Vet oriented sites. Politics, I kept those that made me think, informed me accurately, and ditched those which sought to assure me the world is ending. Long before the Marines United scandal, I ditched those who flooded my feed with nudie pics. I have a beautiful wife and the truth is, my kids are often beside me while I scroll through Facebook on my phone. I found those less than helpful. Oddly enough I miss the days where Facebook was about cute cat videos. So here you go, you’re welcome.
And yes, I ditched those Veteran sites that kept me thinking about the past and little about my current world. I don’t hope ISIS comes to get some at my house because my wife hates it when guest drop by unexpected and the house is a mess. She would literally want to clean up for ISIS. I ditched those that wanted me to think too heavily about a life I will never again live. StreetShares is another a good page to follow because they are literally funding Vet owned businesses and their future. They helped fund the Combat Flip Flop guys before Mark Cuban made it cool. And that’s where I want to live, the future and the now. Purge it brothers, purge it. I won’t tell you which to keep and which to lose, but clean up your Facebook feed to include Vet, political, personal, and professional. Get your Facebook feed to reflect your future more than your past and you won’t regret it. I did it, and I’m loving it. And yes, if Unprecedented Mediocrity is holding you back or creating an odd fascination for granny panties, please drop me. But just promise to write.
If I don’t hold you back, Like the UM page below. If I do, then get out of here. No one loves you anymore. Go Old Yeller, go!