Coda for the Retreating House

Boathouse at Ballston Beach on new footings, 24 ay 2022.

The house has finally been moved to a new location. The Provincetown Independent has reported on it better than I can, so no need for me to paraphrase their fine work. 

There’s no doubt that the saga of this building has captured my imagination. However, documenting it has also triggered a lot of my irritation with social media — or maybe the state of our culture. I’m not good with projected emotion, reactionary critique, or unreflective sentimentality — especially when they’re offered without context. They always feel violent to me. I also have an increasingly low tolerance for people who are too lazy to Google for information. And online chatter/gossip/sniping really erodes my faith in humanity. Documenting this building’s journey brought me into the harsh light of all those things and made me consider whether I should even continue with social media.

It may see self-indulgent to make those reflections in a fieldguide, but this cycle of documentation taught me a lot about the social ecology of this place — both revealing its frayed edges and a toxicity I usually try to ignore. While I moved here because of my abiding love of place, this experience made me question that decision and even to consider moving once again.

What probably jarred me the most was the abject lack of wonder and absolute commitment to sensationalism that permeated comments. This building allowed us to witness an elemental force of nature; it allowed us to consider our powerlessness in the face of our planet’s power. That got lost in the sniping about class privilege. 

Those things said, I’m trying to be better with the ‘snooze,’ filter, and block buttons on my apps. So I’ll carry on with social media a bit longer. But I’ll certainly be more circumspect with what I share.

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