By John Mattingly
As FACEbook proves itself worthy of being another F-word, Inner Old Man has squeezed out a new B-word: BUTbook, an emergent social media platform with but one rule: Each message and response must end in the word BUT.
By BUT-ending sentences, and BUT-splicing paragraphs, a conversation can be reversed, enhanced, or surprised and perhaps a one-way diatribe can even be BUTTED into a two-way argument. Though only a three-letter word, BUT is big. Who among us has not heard, and felt, the power of a well placed BUT:
“You’re really doing the right thing, BUT the thing is, the right thing at the wrong time is not right.”
“I love you, BUT there’s this other person.”
“It’s great, BUT we need to change a few small things.”
This first species of BUTs is used to diminish the predicate. The good news is offered first, followed by a devastating modifier.
A second species of BUT uses the reverse:
“I have guns myself, BUT I use them wisely.”
“All humans are created equal, BUT birds of a feather must flock together.”
“I’d love to see you, BUT I have to meet a man about a dog.”
A third species of BUTs accelerate the nominative:
“BUT this is more than right, this is just.”
“BUT anything, at this point, is better than nothing.”
“BUT you were there with him all night.”
“Life, in all it’s misery, is BUT a wonderful mystery.”
All species of BUT are conjunctive, joining A to B in some way. BUTbook means to harness the oft-ignored potential of BUT, to get more BUTs on the field and in the fray to reverse or surprise one-way conversations.
Someone may be an ignorant bigot or a silly snowflake, BUT what about something – anything – else about them? Ending with a BUT requires that whatever was foregoing will be modified, necessarily by one of the three species of BUTs. The power of a single BUT becomes staggering.
Being the BUTT of a joke is a good thing. On BUTbook, participants learn to BUTT in without being a buttinski, so that BUTs of the world can unite, having only a conjunction to lose. Have no fear of pulling your very own, special BUT out of thin air, and never hesitate to BUT all BUT-feasors.
Why BUTbook, and why now?
Email and internet access were revolutionary in the 1990s. They still are, even though they now live in a zoo of other social media that has increased our connectivity but reduced accuracy, privacy and security. FACEbook brings us face to face with the ways we are a product. The medium is the message and the message is you. Have it all for three easy payments of $39.95.
Though quick to engage email and Internet, I’ve not joined any other social media platform. An aversion to chatter combined with a constant, low-level anxiety about hacking convinced me that internet searches and email offered a sufficient wealth of contacts and hazards. Not only that, Inner Old Man felt obligated to get grumpy about a growing tendency of the new F-word to OS, over-share.
(Note in the upcoming how BUT changes things … )
Over-sharing is a slippery slope to the three categories of mental incapacity: Moronic, idiotic and imbecilic, three words that come to mind when IT wiz kids start talking about connecting people to each other and being sure your friends know what you had for dinner and your latest fav music. BUT what F-word is connecting you to is the consumer driven growth web that will usually satisfy you during the period of obsolescence, after which you will now need the Next Big Thing (NBT).
Perhaps the most egregious of NBTs is the cellphone. In the first place, it’s mildly preposterous that people are willing to carry a phone around with them everywhere, like a wireless leash that gets longer and longer, BUT each increment of length requires an update and a payment, sometimes a big one, other times a small one.
It’s apparently a great business plan to sell new lengths of the same leash over and over again. Apple is now a trillion dollar company. BUT having said all that, the cellphone has changed culture so dramatically it’s now assumed that it is actually possible for everyone on Earth to communicate with anyone and everyone else on Earth, almost anywhere on Earth, and probably within a reasonable time.
BUT, because culture changes faster than governance can adapt to those changes, the local/global reach of this capacity is just being acknowledged, let alone understood. Ironically, Trump’s business is all about ignoring national boundaries. The man wanted Trump buildings all over the planet. He’s the ultimate globalist, BUT it is becoming clear that …
This is BUT one example of how an opinionated rant can be forcibly strained through a mere conjunction to expand the discussion.
For the grace of BUT, go we. There will be clowns and hairpins who will join BUTbook, if only to revel in the homonyminals, BUT even these modes reveal truths that elude the constraints of civility.
John Mattingly cultivates prose, among other things, and was most recently seen near Moffat.