My filter has broke. I am no longer able to tolerate or ignore things like I was able to before 2020. To be fair, this breaking of my filter has been happening for a few years now, but 2020 was the final straw.
Let me back up here a little. When I write about my filter, it is the filter which lets me smile and nod when I read a comment online, or hear it in person. A comment that I disagree with, or one that is so devoid of fact that it would make your blood boil. We all have these filters in varying degrees. Mine has kept me out of trouble up until now.
That filter is gone. I am intolerant of my intolerance.
A friend from many years ago called this his â€œdiplomacy chipâ€. It helped him navigate the world and all its nuances and be successful. The filter is broke, the chip is gone, look out world.
Of course it was the pandemic that did the filter in. But in truth, itâ€™s been a long time coming.
Social media has been a big part of that as keyboard warriors forget that having freedom of speech also means you are responsible for what is said.
Donâ€™t dare question a â€œfactâ€ that someone read online, even if science says that â€œfactâ€ is blatantly wrong and misleading.
â€œI read it on Facebook so it must be true.â€
No. Sorry. Itâ€™s not. If you canâ€™t back up a claim, donâ€™t say it. Too many people have swapped news with opinion, and yes I am fully aware this is an opinion column, not news. News is facts. Present the argument, talk to the key players, quote what they say, leave the writerâ€™s opinion out of it. Readers can form their own opinion â€“ Journalism 101 et al.
But if people only read the headlines like on social media, and then react without knowing the information that is in the actual article, all is lost.
Having this broken filter, I have tried to do some therapeutic things to mend it. You canâ€™t just run out to a store and buy a new one.
To cut down on some of the clutter, Iâ€™ve weeded down my Facebook friends to just people I know. A list of 400 people went to just 100 people whom I have either met in person, have talked to by phone, or have some sort of a real connection with outside of the digital world.
While my Facebook feed is still cluttered up with posts about the American Revolution 2.0 and food recipes, I now see posts from friends and relatives that I really want to see. Most of these are just people commiserating about the same issues with living through a pandemic, but the oars are all going in the same direction.
This was also done on other social media platforms. Now itâ€™s only sports teams, food and nature photos on Instagram; credible news outlets and real politician accounts on Twitter. And a lot less time on all three of these platforms.
With the extra time, my wife suggested I tackle some of the projects around the house. Instead I have tried to return to some of my other pursuits. This has been relatively unsuccessful though.
Building scale model trains sounds easy, but the finicky parts, magnifying glasses, toxic glues and sharp knives havenâ€™t worked well. The pharmacy may run out of band-aids. Two hours to install four tiny parts on a locomotive used to be calming, now â€“ not so much.
Iâ€™d go out and take photos, but those four letter words arrived: Snow and Cold.
I may return to watching NHL hockey when the season starts. Sure, everyone is locked down and kids canâ€™t play hockey themselves, but millionaire hockey players get to play in sealed arenas. The priorities of millionaires and politicians. I tell you.
See what I mean about a filter. If my filter had not been broken, I would not have written that opinion.
Originally published in the January 13th, 2021 issue of The Leader.