Letter to the Editor – Social Media

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Dear Editor,

Disheartened, Sad, Frustrated and Overwhelmed

I do not engage on social media to either fuel or squelch fires. I try every day, even in my imperfect way, to just be a decent human being. I have never shared my core beliefs online, but I will do so here. My God – whatever and whoever that may be to me – does not give me the right to judge, diminish or destroy another human being. I was baptized a Catholic, raised an Anglican and as I have often said in private, I have faith that there is more beyond ourselves.

On occasion, I’ve been challenged, called out or had people hang up on me. I’ve had conversations with current council members and our Mayor, Nancy Peckford over the past few years that didn’t always go my way. I also have some friends who disagree with some of my thoughts or ideas but we are always  able to TALK because we respect each other and our differences do not stop us from being friends. It simply means we care about our community. We agree to disagree because as mature adults we understand that it’s not only okay to have opposing opinions and viewpoints, it’s how we get better answers. 

So much of the online anger and blaming that has been directed towards me has been relentless for over three months since Canada Day! Is it not time to heal now? Is it not time to move on from anger? Is it not time to work together on solutions and to forgive?

Social media is becoming a dumping ground for grievances and negative opinions without so much as a knock on a door or picking up the phone to discuss differences. I will not participate on this new “social media.” I realize that this means I’ve left myself open to judgement and I understand that it is still continuing. That being said, I’m not sure I would have the right responses anymore if any of these “online warriors” were to knock on my door. I’m angry. Not at any one person, just at all of ‘this’. The town I fell in love with, the community that opened their arms to me and my family, the community that was so full of diversity and joy, no longer seems the same to me.  

I now have cameras around my home. I lock my truck and my doors at night and sometimes I wake up to do so. I look down the aisle at the grocery store before turning in. I no longer silence my pup when she barks and I pay attention as to why. Those who constantly berate myself and others who I care about, don’t even look sideways at me. They don’t say hello or acknowledge me. They don’t say anything because a computer screen isn’t in front of them where they are emboldened to spew out the horrible things which they don’t have the courage or decency to say out loud. They would rather sit there and giggle at defensive responses or heap more garbage on the pile. 

Do you really think those of us who are giving up endless hours of our time and resources to the community are this vindictive? Do you really think we are the horrible human beings you paint us out to be? Or are we just easy targets for you to judge and vilify? I am finally writing this after months of being silent because it’s time to stand up to online bullies and I hope others are like minded.

As this election campaign moves forward, I am looking for mature leadership who understand the needs of this community. I know that those who I support will grow this community to the point where those who are righteously angry or marginalized will feel comfortable and safe to have a voice. While some may read this letter as my effort to silence free speech, it is quite the opposite. In fact, I propose the contrary.

I simply ask that before making an all out effort to diminish someone’s name and character, take a deep breath, look at the big picture, consider your next step carefully and then find a creative way to build up instead of tearing down, having a conversation instead of typing, listening instead of demanding to be heard, taking a chance on a new friendship despite differences of opinion, shake a hand instead of slapping yours. These actions would be really refreshing. I’m not certain some will ever see these possibilities, but I won’t stop hoping or trying despite my sadness.

Wendy Embleton

 

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