I remember when the world wide web was invented. I used AOL back then, It was almost impossible to trace online users. I was basically “Bernard Sure Shaw”. Sometimes, I was Bugs Bunny. At that time, your personal information was hard to get. It’s was the wild west on the Internet.
There were was no Facebook just message boards and chat rooms. Then along came voice chat rooms. For me voice chat was the funniest thing in the world. It was like making unlimited crank calls without any repercussion. You could mess without anyone and I did.
My screen name was “the_fool_behind_the_curtain” and that’s exactly what I was. I’d go into yahoo’s “Irish rooms” with a brogue, convince the people in the chat room that I’d been living in the states so long that I picked up a wee bit of the New York accent. They’d believe me until I couldn’t fake it no more and I would burst out laughing. I did the same thing in the “black rooms” but instead I’d argue that just because I sounded white it didn’t make me white. It was banter, it was childish and everyone online knew it. Almost everything was done for a laugh.
My space came along, smart phones and modems that didn’t sound like a broken fax machine. I got divorced. I got crazy. Had a blast. Facebook came along. At first I rejected the idea of Facebook like I rejected the idea of Myspace. To me it was voyeurism and glorification of people’s collected trinkets. I’m not impressed by Material possession. I’m impressed by your thoughts, your ideas.
I was single/divorced at that time, I had a one bedroom apartment. I spent two years living in Patchogue working as a head cook/chef. I had no cable TV for those two years. Instead, I read and I started writing again. It was all done on purpose. I was being somewhat frugal, after all, I was divorced. I was happier spending extra cash on sending my laundry to the fluff and fold and buying bar flies drinks.
My landlord Dave was a one legged novelist from Britain that owned the local bar in town. He let me drink at his bar for free after a guy nicknamed “Chicken” decided to slap around his girlfriend. I slapped Chicken right out of the bar and onto the street. During the arguing Chicken said ” Who the fuck is this guy?” His girlfriend only knew my first name, that I wrote poetry and occasional got drunk and recite Shakespeare off the top of my head. She stumbled for my name and said “This is Tom! Tom Poet!” For the rest of my time in Patchogue that’s what they called me Tom Poet.
The truth is my Poetry is not the greatest but how I live life is poetry. Poetry comes out of me naturally, during conversations and in the things I do. I can redefine myself in a heart beat without looking back. I’ve been everything from a mate on a lobster boat, to a business owner, a chef, professional motion picture projectionist, a stagehand and a local journalist. I even wrote copy for one of the best advertising companies in New York. That’s poetry.
At some point an old friend convinced me to go onto Facebook. It was different than Myspace. It was able to to voice my feelings about current events, share my life. It was like a blog with friends you know and they all had blogs too. I connected with my soul mate, found love and posted almost daily on Facebook.
Then the 2016 elections happened and the world seem to go nuts. I posted almost exclusively about politics. I fell for the narratives. But then something strange started happening. Labels became so extreme that everyday people went from being deplorable to being Nazis from liberal to anti-American.
Being a man that always removed himself from the crowd. I find myself concerned about censorship and Big Tech as well as with the labels we give each other. Not that it has affected me personally. I was only in Facebook jail once and I have thick skin when it comes to name calling. That says a lot for a guy who trolled the hell out of any political post that was disagreeable.
So I’ve decided to walk away for awhile. Let the light shine on another part of me. Perhaps even find Myspace and show off my trinkets. Or maybe find another name for myself. The dark side of morality is at play and this page is my light. When this pandemic is gone I hope to see some of you on the beach, in a space where the light shines on all of us. Until then I’ll be here censoring only myself.
Peace and Love,
The fool behind the curtain