Friday, January 28, 2022

Tensions Are Rising…Have We Reached Our Breaking Point?

The outdoor temperature might have plummeted over the past week, but tensions among most everyone certainly seem to be rising. I have noticed it on social media, in the news, and in my own circle of friends, many are just plain fed up. With everything.

Pandemic fatigue is a reality for many, and it is causing nerves to be frazzled and patience have been worn very thin.

Schoolchildren were kept home after the holidays, and they are to return to the classroom on Monday as the Omicron variant seems to be overloading our hospitals. Students are returning to class yet we can’t dine in at a restaurant, students are returning to the classroom but we are being asked to work from home if we are able – no wonder we are confused and frustrated.

This ordeal is frustrating for those of us in news media as well. Much of what we would normally be covering is simply not happening, or is delayed, or has gone virtual. I suspect that not many of us in the news business enjoys writing about anything pandemic related. It’s boring, it’s frustrating, and no matter what we write, we are certain to be bombarded with aggressive, often vitriolic messages informing us that we are mindless sheep who are being bought off… bought off by whom, I have yet to figure out, and when I’ll receive the cheques for this mysterious buy-off nobody seems to know, but they are certain that we in the media have been roped in to some grand conspiracy. Let me tell you, at least that would be interesting; this pandemic is anything but interesting at this point.

Businesses are hurting, particularly small businesses for which the ever-changing rules have been crushing at times. Many friendships have become strained, and mental health challenges are being experienced by far more folks than we would typically see. In addition to increased mental health issues, overdoses continue to skyrocket, putting even more strain on our healthcare system.

This ongoing ordeal has been like having a heavy weight around our necks, slowing us down, making everything we do more difficult, and restricting our movements. Two years of our lives have been gobbled up by this pandemic, and that is time that we will not get back, time lost to the history books.

We are like caged animals plotting our freedom. We have been controlled for too long, and we are beginning to distrust those responsible for our public safety. Politicians, never high on the trustworthiness list, have sunk even lower in the eyes of many, and even medical professionals are being looked upon with suspicion by some.

So we have a population that is pandemic weary, who don’t trust our government leaders, who are finding medical professionals increasingly suspect, and who are increasingly vocal about their frustrations.

Armchair critics and Monday morning quarterbacks have of course had a field day with the mixed messaging throughout the two years of this pandemic, and some have used those mixed messages to sow doubt and to spread conspiracy theories. Governments, no matter where in the world they are located, are often their own worst enemies.

After two doses of a vaccine, we are now asked to receive a third dose, a booster, though many have been questioning the need, or if a booster will really work. After the third dose, will there be a fourth? A fifth? Are we blindly chasing the demon?

Fair questions, but then to be fair, this virus did not come with a manual, and leaders around the globe have needed to make decisions on the fly often with far less information and certainty than they would have liked.

Throughout this pandemic I have attempted to offer our readers some hope, encouragement, comfort, and perspective, not as easy a task as one might expect, particularly as the reward for such a calm, practical approach has been mountains of abuse from the anti-mask, anti-vaccine, ‘plandemic’ conspiracy folks, and others who are outraged but often don’t seem to know who is responsible for their outrage so they lash out at everyone.

In previous columns I have noted that we are not alone. I have reminded readers that a trip around global news websites will quickly inform us that the same issues are a burden for much of the rest of the world. Pick a country and it is likely that they too are pandemic weary, they don’t trust their government leaders, they don’t believe their medical professionals, and they have lost trust in most institutions, including the media. If we are doing it wrong in Ontario, we have been doing it wrong across the globe.

There is little comfort in a reminder that the entire globe is experiencing this horrendous ordeal, but it should serve as a lesson that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.

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