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  • This article by Jonathan Thompson originally appeared in the Apr 14, 2010 issue of High Country News.
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Topic: Culture & Communities     Department: Heard Around the West     Comments: 0

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The cyber-gasfield

News: Apr 14, 2010
by Jonathan Thompson


Maybe you’re one of the millions who’ve discovered Facebook in recent years. You relish the deep connection to long-lost friends, and even neighbors, that only the Internet allows. Maybe you enjoy “friending” ex-lovers who wish you were dead, and high-school jocks who ignored you except to punch you out in the locker room. Or maybe you’d rather expand your social network, seeking fellow Christian roughnecks or oilfield wives.

Enter *Drillingahead.com*, the social network of oil and gas professionals. You can connect with other Directional Drillers and Oklahoma Mud Men or listen to Roughneck Radio, or visit *Roughneckcity.com* and buy oilfield jewelry. (I covet that pair of tricone drillbit pendants, myself.) You can even play the Virtual Oil Well game, but remember to get an EIS before drilling, or it’s GAME OVER).

Best of all are *the videos* uploaded by members. Some are downright silly. But others are more compelling, reminiscent of the digital detritus of a macabre postmodernist film workshop. Most are no longer than 30 seconds, and some titles combine the mundane with the morbid: “Matador 07 Accident Video,” “Lifeboat drill results in death,” “Confined Space Welding Explosion,” “Governor Palin State of the State.” And many share a common theme: It’s just another day on the 9 to 5. Until someone dies.

I prefer the Blowout music videos. There’s carnage galore here, too, but it’s mostly machinery that dies, not people. In the unexpectedly moving “Blowout,” viewers are treated to one rig after another exploding into flames, crashing down into crumpled heaps of steel or spewing earthly fluids and black smoke high into the air. It’s accompanied by the Eagles: “There’s a hole in the world tonight. There’s a cloud of fear and sorrow. There’s a hole in the world tonight. Don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.”

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