Sticking My Head in the Sand

It might be time for me to play ostrich and call it quits on social media, at least for a while.

During all the ups and downs of Covid these past two years–the first wave, the second, delta, omicron–I’ve often allowed myself to get trapped in the mire of Twitter, ostensibly looking for the latest news but always getting sucked into the endless cycle of outrage on that platform. 

With Canada apparently on the downward side of the most recent Covid wave, I had fewer reasons to check for the latest chitchat on the virus and managed to control my bad Twitter habit. I was even looking forward to what I hoped would be our most normal spring and summer since 2019. But then chaos struck in my country, a place very much unaccustomed to such a thing. 

I’m talking, of course, about Canada’s “trucker” “protests.” I’m using scare quotes here because the convoy to Ottawa, intended as a protest by truckers upset with vaccine policies recently enacted by Canada’s federal government, has now turned into something else. What started and was allowed to fester in Ottawa has spread outward. 

A few thousand angry voices, loud but incohesive, with no consistent message, are now exerting their will in other cities and regions across the country. Some of them are blocking international borders. Others have basically erected a city of their own within our nation’s capital, apparently with no plan to leave until governments cave to their demands for a repeal of  vaccine and mask mandates and border policies requiring testing and quarantines. And some governments have done exactly that. (I’m looking at you Alberta and Saskatchewan.)

(As an aside, removing mask mandates when the highly transmissible omicron wave is weaker but still very much present is the height of folly. No legitimate medical expert is advocating for this; in fact all the ones I’ve seen are pleading for mask mandates to stay, yet the angry mob wants them gone, so gone they be. What could possibly go wrong?) 

(As another aside, read the room people. Europe is a couple of weeks ahead of us in this pandemic and countries there are just now starting to ease travel restrictions, but still require vaccines, with France, as one example, still using a vaccine passport for entry to most public spaces within its borders. And experts from countries around the world have serious doubts about the UK’s intentions to remove all of its restrictions, with many planning to maintain theirs until at least the spring. Why the rush in Canada? That being said, I do agree with Canadian Liberal MP Joël Lightbound that our federal government needs to explain its measures better to foster more understanding and support. Tout de suite, I’d say.)

It was against this backdrop of unrest that I resumed my social media habit, also adding Facebook to the mix. And yesterday broke me. I know that sounds terribly dramatic but I really do feel like I hit a breaking point for a couple of reasons.

First, a Toronto Sun columnist amplified and apparently agreed with recent comments by American talk show host Bill Maher comparing the Canadian prime minister to Hitler, based on remarks taken completely out of context.

Second, the strong support I saw for the lawlessness of the protesters, some coming from people I know. I am not naïve and know that Twitter and Facebook are home to many viewpoints, so the support itself was not a surprise. I think I was just worn down by the intensity of it and the disbelief that people I know could be on board with the protesters’ tactics.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I understand that some people have very strong feelings about masks and vaccines in general, and vaccine mandates and passports more particularly. I also know–as the cesspool side of social media has made abundantly clear–there are many people who possess a visceral hatred of Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau. 

So, yeah, people have reasons to be frustrated, either with specific policies or with a federal leader they see as out of touch. But to them I say: be careful what you wish for. Supporting the protest in principle, no problem. Disagreeing with vaccine passports and other related policies, fine. But praising a small, vocal, and unelected minority for defying laws to force their will on the elected government of an entire province or country, well that is something else entirely. 

The acceptance of even the smallest degree of mob rule sets a dangerous precedent. It’s the proverbial slippery slope and it doesn’t lead anywhere good. Once the bullies get away with this kind of thing, they and others like them will be encouraged to try again. And you never know, next time they might come for a policy, right, or freedom you hold dear. 

The failure to recognize the severity of the current situation and its potential ramifications was just too much for me yesterday when I started writing this post. In the light of a new day, I feel a little better, but I’m still going to stick my head in the sand, for a few days anyway. Like a lot of people, I need a break from Twitter, Facebook, and the anxiety and disappointment they induce.*

*After I somewhat hypocritically add a link to this post. I also fully acknowledge there are very good people doing very good things on Twitter and Facebook. I just find the negative is outweighing the positive lately.

Ostrich image: 162065068 © Valiva |

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