I have started purging Facebook friends.
I do this with the greatest of caution. Social media algorithms are already bad enough for creating echo chambers that limit exposure to differing views and opinions.
And it’s not that I can’t tolerate a wide range, from the idea that humanity needs a good culling and we should be getting on with life as usual to the opinion that the response has not gone nearly far enough and we should be shutting down everything.
What I cannot abide however spreading misinformation and political or racist smear campaigns.
What set me off was a [expletive-deleted] You Trudeau meme. Political memes are always problematic. They generally lack context and are frequently rife with logical fallacies.
This particular one conflated the prime minister’s Easter weekend at the cottage with a family who was ticketed $880 in Oakville, Ont. for rollerblading.
In the first place, that ticket had nothing to do with Trudeau, or even the federal government. It was based on a City of Oakville bylaw. The bylaw officer was clearly overzealous and I am pretty sure it will never stand up in court, if they choose to fight it (which they should).
Secondly, the over-the-top vitriol of it completely overshadowed what is the legitimate criticism of the P.M.’s actions.
Prior to the Easter weekend, Trudeau was separated from his wife and kids. He was at the prime minister’s residence in Ottawa and they were at the summer residence in Lake Harrington, P.Q.
Both the premier of Ontario and Quebec had previously asked people not to go to their cottages.
Canada’s top medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam also weighed in, saying urban dwellers should not head to the country to wait out the pandemic.
Trudeau himself had made comments about families not getting together for Easter dinners.
Joining his family for the weekend? Hypocritical? Perhaps. Elitist? Maybe. Worthy of second thought at the ballot box? Why not?
But worthy of the kind of hateful malice exhibited by that meme and the accompanying posts and comments?
Not to me.
Technically, he didn’t break any rules. The guideline of not going to the cottage is not an outright ban. Interprovincial travel, while discouraged, is also not a hard and fast restriction. And immediate, cohabitating families were exempt from the directive on Easter gatherings.
Personally, I think Trudeau’s actions demonstrate a failure of leadership. Lead by example, it is said.
There are many worse examples of posts that irk me and, over the past few weeks, I have thought about purging Facebook friends (many of whom I don’t really know personally). This one was just the one that broke the proverbial camel’s back.