And here we are…
So where do we go from here?
I’m no good at coming up with solutions.
And if what I see on social media these days is any indication, neither are any of its subscribers.
But we sure know how to complain!
We can all sit back behind our phone and laptop screens and pretend to be the wise old person who sits atop the mount and casts aspersions and judgment upon others like it’s our job. Like our oxygen supply depends on it. Like there is money at stake.
Now I realize that not “all of us” do that.
But there are a very vocal few who either feel they have a strong following or have a strong sense of entitlement and who take it upon themselves to speak for the masses.
I’m not talking about vaccine mandates or COVID restrictions or whether or not to circumcise your male offspring or even weighing in on the Coke or Pepsi debate.
I’m purely writing from a very basic, general perspective.
Not that my own bias won’t show through.
It’s hard to criticize others for being all high and mighty without risking coming across as the very same.
So this piece is being prepared from a very precarious perch on a slippery slope.
I’m not encouraging or welcoming debate. I’m merely offering food for thought.
Because I, much like you, dear reader, see this further entrenching trend whereby each side of an issue doesn’t seek common ground to try to gain the other’s perspective. Rather, each side gets defensive, digs in its heels, and only seeks additional information that bolsters it’s own position. It’s preaching to the choir, reaffirming the way those folks already think and solidifying adhesion amongst members of that particular group.
It’s not growth.
It’s not a conversation or dialogue - it’s “I’m right; you’re wrong. I’m smart; you’re stupid.” It’s all or nothing. There is no middle ground, no compromise, no “ok, thanks, good talk”.
Yet, at some point, we have to put down our phones, back away from our laptops and television screens, and get out there in the world and somehow share this planet.
Like I’ve told my own kids on countless occasions, “you don’t have to like each other, but you do have to get along”.
As stated earlier, I’m no problem solver. No doubt you’ve already determined that I’m fairly good at pointing out the obvious.
So my question is: where do we go from here?
We’ve moved beyond, “let’s agree to disagree” to “you go your way and I’ll go mine” and in some cases also “and f*ck you and the horse you rode in on” or the occasional “eat shit and die”.
We’re not necessarily getting any classier.
Pretty harsh! But that’s where we’re at. At least that’s what I’m seeing online. And I’ve unfollowed and/or blocked a lot of people I don’t agree with - mostly out of self preservation and to limit my temptation to engage in bullsh*t debate.
Perhaps because we’re not as personal and in one another’s physical space as we once were and it’s in large part due to the pandemic: we’re more detached and it’s easier to isolate ourselves and compartmentalize one another. No doubt it’s also a consequence of this electronic and digital age we’re living in.
It’s kind of sad, really.
I live in a small community in Atlantic Canada. We’re “casserole people”. And by that, I mean that when someone falls on hard times, we step up and set up a benefit, make some meals, send a note of encouragement, or shovel a driveway or mow a lawn. I think it’s a throwback to our cave people days when a tribe or group was only as strong as it’s weakest member - so everyone pitched in to help, to level the playing field, to give everyone a chance.
To my way of thinking, that’s how I see it.
But these days, again, based on what I see online (and I haven’t put it to any kind of scientific or statistical test), it seems like when we need each other the most, we’re the least likely to drop our own crap and just help a brother (or sister) out.
We’ve depersonalized humanity.
So again I ask - where do we go from here?
I guess that’s up to each of us.
For me, I’ll be lessening my time online and spending more time outside, rooting myself in the power of nature and fresh air.
I’ll be looking at the moon - because we all share the same one.
I’ll be reaching out more regularly to the people I love - even if I don’t follow their politics or ideals.
I’m going to walk my son’s dog and pet my daughter’s cat (if he’ll let me) more often - because animals are just happy to have your attention and give of their affection without judgement… well the dog does at least.
I’ll be making casseroles for people going through hard times - because it feels good to have some kind of connection to an action that makes someone else feel validated and like they matter.
And I’ll keep writing.
Because it helps me try to make sense of nonsensical things.
About the Creator
Ms. Carroll is a 40-something year-old veteran public servant and mother of three adult children. She and her partner Hal live in Amherst NS with a sweet, anxiety-ridden rescue dog. Shelley loves running, red wine, and laughter.
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