Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Iron Range Blowhard Detection

A friend of mine with ties to the Iron Range reports a disturbing new trend in the lunchroom at one of the mines up there.

People have found a new way to call out conversational blowhards and they’re starting to use the Internet to resolve points of contention.

Iron Rangers have always loved vigorous conversation. Not just in lunchrooms. In barrooms. And classrooms. And union halls and political caucuses. Heck, even in confessionals. Everywhere. You have to expect a certain amount of overstatement on just about any topic of conversation up there. You just factor it in.

It’s this new way of calling a blowhard out that’s disturbing (if its true). That and using the Internet to arbitrate the ensuing dispute.

The way my buddy describes it, the party doing the challenging reaches into his back pocket and throws an imaginary football penalty flag. If he’s especially worked up, he may even wave the invisible flag in the other guy’s face first.

This evidently replaces the traditional form of challenge, which as we all know, involves uttering a phrase that alludes to a certain bovine byproduct.

Someone then proceeds to the nearest available computer to “Google” the issue in contention, either validating the original statement or consigning it—and the individual who uttered it—to scorn and derision for the balance of lunch hour.

It’s yet another case of mass communication homogenizing the species and killing local culture.

Windy, free-swinging discussions have been as much a part of lunch hour in those mines as the pasty for more than a hundred years. Some of them have been known to continue unresolved for days, weeks, months—even years and decades. I’ll bet some have followed old miners into retirement, out of this life and (who knows) possibly even into the next.

Somehow, having the Internet available and ready to resolve disputes just seems to kill all that. Some blowhards are meant to be deflated slowly… Over time… Not popped like a toy balloon.

So I’m hoping my buddy is playing fast and loose with his facts. I’m calling him out.

This being public radio, I can’t utter the traditional challenge. So I’m throwing one of those Iron Range invisible flags. And he can’t Google his way out of this one either. We’re going to have to go to lunch at the mine to get to the bottom of this.