There I sat at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii as a young 19-year-old Marine in 1998 during a training op living in tent city amongst the red clay dirt. Having a little break after the weekend libbo, I look over to see one of my fellow Marines showing the flowery Hawaiian dress he just bought his girlfriend. No sooner than I could speak, the unspeakable happened. He got naked, put on the dress, tucked his junk between his legs and began to dance Silence of the Lambs Style. Most laughed, I threw up a little because this Marine was clearly a diet recruit, but we all moved on with our lives as if nothing just happened. Welcome to the field my friends, where anything goes and nothing is off limits. Neither race, gender, your wife or ugly girlfriend, the field is where only the emotionally resilient can survive. Facebook on the other hand, simply does not understand it and with all my heart I wish they would. Just yesterday, my friends over at Gruntworks found their page of over 430,000 fans unpublished for lack of such understanding. They are back up today after an honest appeal, but the broader question still remains. What about military humor does Zuckerberg continue to fail to understand?
Hat Tip to Good Peeps
Although I write for Gruntworks at times and regularly share their stuff, I am not an employee of Gruntworks. I neither profit nor suffer as a result of their business. However, my relationship with Gruntworks transcends business. They, with their hundreds of thousands of fans, were one of the first largest sites to start sharing my work and I am eternally grateful. In fact, for many of you Gruntworks is the only reason you found this blog. Granted, if you Google “Unprecedented Mediocrity” I am number 1 in Google’s search results, but seeing as how no one Googles “Unprecedented Mediocrity” that’s not really a factor now is it.
The HMFIC over at Gruntworks, otherwise known as Chop, actually makes it a priority to help other Vets with talent get their name out there. Granted, he could take his social media presence and dive into it like Scrooge McDuck diving into his pool of gold, but the dude is just good people and he shares. They have helped countless, including myself and I’m here to tell you it matters greatly. Gruntworks is a business, but they care more about their fellow Veterans than business would dictate they probably should. Good People.
So when I saw that Facebook unpublished their page my heart literally broke. Without warning or explanation, a business that spent years entertaining us all was gone because someone in California really does not understand military humor. It’s why I recommend you sign up for their email list and, in fact, mine above. Please be it politics, news, or finance, don’t sell your soul to one social media site for before long they will own it. Facebook can ban their site if they want, but they will have no idea the ramifications it has for fellow Veterans trying to make it in this world.
A Message to Millennials
I say a message to Millennials, but it’s also whatever you call the generation that comes after it. Don’t follow stuff on social media if it hurts your fragile little heart. Without exception, edgy and mostly conservative social media sites have been assaulted without end because someone gets butthurt at stuff they don’t have to see if they don’t want. It’s like voluntarily walking into a strip club and complaining offense at the sight of a nipple. Gruntworks literally has no idea what finally got them banned, but they are not alone in this persecution.
Friends from all over social media came to help and that’s the good peeps are Girls for Gunslingers, Molon Labe, US Infantry, and more. As a result, Gruntworks is back online. Because above all, they realize the community is under assault due to tech-savvy kids in the editorial department in San Francisco who simply don’t understand military humor. Literally, they could hire any Veteran and simply pay him in jalapeno cheese and Skoal to sit there and say, “It’s just field talk bro.” Does anyone honestly think Animal Mother or 8 Ball would have reported each other to the social media police?
Facebook is indeed a private business that can do what it wants, but what they fail to understand is that they are crippling the livelihoods of grown men because they don’t understand our humor. Yes, you will see some harsh posts against Muslims from time to time, but what you don’t recognize is that those same guys posting memes against ISIS shielded young Muslim kids from enemy fire emanating from fellow Muslims in warzones while risking to orphan their own kids back in America. We might bemoan the flow of Syrian refugees for logical security reasons and then run up and hug the Iraqi Terp with whom we shed blood. It is more complicated than it seems. I am thankful for Facebook as it has connected us Vets with one another, but I pray with all my heart it does more to understand us. It’s just field talk bro.
The Path Forward
So many of us, including this blog rely heavily on Facebook as it is one of the most ingenious Social Platforms of our time. It’s why you call a Kleenex a Kleenex, despite the fact that Kleenex is just one brand. It’s why you say Google instead of saying, “I’m going to internet search something.” Facebook deserves its props, but with great power comes great responsibility. Please understand that which you do not so that free speech and political dissent is not stifled while you hold the reigns of one of the greatest social inventions of our time. Please Mark, please. Does us a solid Zuck and hire a GWOT vet in the editorial department. Literally, the dude will work for jalapeno cheese and Skoal.
The people at Gruntworks almost lost their entire livelihoods in a moment for but a simple lack of understanding. They are not trolling other sites with hateful messages, but rather, they are just posting the same stuff that built their fan base over years and if you have an ounce of emotional resiliency it’s not that bad. No one has to follow what they do not like. I understand military humor is confusing to some and it’s why I don’t let my daughter, who can read very well now, sit beside me when I search through my Facebook feed.
I get it, it’s weird for much of America who never sat around a desert or forest in the middle of the night with nothing to talk about but the absurd. If there is one thing I miss about the military it is the field conversations because they cover everything from Physics and the origins of the universe to that skank hanging out at the arcade on the base. Facebook has given that back to so many of us who miss it dearly and I plead with Facebook to understand such camaraderie just a little bit more before you ruin livelihoods. It’s just field talk bro. If you haven’t already, give the people at Gruntworks some love and do so with every military site you follow. Today it was them, tomorrow it could be yours, but the power to understand gallows humor among those who have seen unprecedented death rests within us all if you would but let it. It’s just field talk bro, just field talk.
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