I have a confession to make. I had to go up to Harrison Hot Springs as part of a work assignment I gave myself. I know. Imagine, me, a humble Midwest-born editor, mask on, a man who waved the flag of curve-flattening for weeks on end, leaving the safety of his home office to shoot some photos and video of Harrison Elementary’s reverse parade!
Joking aside, I had more nerves than usual trotting out to one of my favourite B.C. towns, even if I was staying out of restricted areas, practicing social distancing and sanitizing my epidermis away. I’m trying to be more mindful of my feelings, so I asked myself why.
The short answer is I didn’t want to get caught in the social media shaming crossfire. The longer answer is the following.
It’s become an increasing problem in certain local internet circles that people are being shamed for being outdoors during COVID-19. It’s difficult to tell without knowing the full story whether or not violations were taking place. I trust my professional instincts to withhold judgment.
However, the law of averages is on your side, social media shamers. There are very likely some people violating the rules, and it’s those people that keep my thoughts always on the communities I cover. I’m worried about you guys. I want you to be safe. We’ve been through so much this year, even before the pandemic.
Of course the violators should be punished. But it’s not our place to hand down justice.
Petty vigilante justice via social media shaming isn’t the way. It’s a waste of time. All it does is get you addicted to hating “them.” Think about this. Once you start down this path, you get sucked in to taking more and more pictures to feed that hate machine, that illusion of power and control, without realizing the only person you’re ever going to hurt is yourselves.
If there’s an issue, contact law enforcement. Do not try to resolve this yourself. If this keeps escalating, someone is going to get sick, hurt or worse. Stop it.
I now come to picture this little passive-aggressive camera war to be two physically-distanced armies of people constantly taking pictures of each other and grumbling under their breaths in the hopes that the other will run home, tail tucked between their legs. The victors gather in a circle, heads buried in their phones, scrolling through pictures and congratulating themselves on a job well done.
It sounds a little empty to me. There are other ways to satisfy the craving for control.
I admit I didn’t technically need to be in Harrison the day of the parade. With that said, I felt it was important to make my presence known to send a message. I’m still watching. I’m still listening. I’m still here for you, no matter what happens, until God takes me from the earth or Black Press and I part ways.
I know it’s hard, but it’s time to stop. People are out there taking pictures of others with malicious intent and without the other’s consent, which is a different discussion altogether. It’s time to put the cameras down.
As we go through life, we learn we’re only in control of ourselves, and even then it’s a balancing act. I know things are tense right now, and we’re all worried for each other, especially as we transition into a new stage of the pandemic. This is scary. I know. But we will make it through. Keep to the rules, and we’ll all be fine. It’ll pass.
I’ll end with a quote from Gerry Palmer, one of your councillors. His post ran closer to Easter time, but a point he made continues to ring true. “Remember the oft-used British expression “be calm and carry on.” It is not “get excited and attack your neighbor.” Times of crisis should bring our society, nation and community together.”
Take care of each other. That’s all I ask of you.