Fear and loathing on Facebook 

click to enlarge WWW.TWITTER.COM - FIGHTING BACK Residents of Cold Lake, AB banded together to clean up the local mosque after someone vandalized it in the wake of last week's Ottawa shooting. This image from a CTV Edmonton story was seen by millions through social media.
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  • FIGHTING BACK Residents of Cold Lake, AB banded together to clean up the local mosque after someone vandalized it in the wake of last week's Ottawa shooting. This image from a CTV Edmonton story was seen by millions through social media.

It was late last Wednesday night.

Wednesday is production day at the Pique, so my day had been spent following the events unfolding in Ottawa while laying out news stories and proofreading copy.

By the time I got home I was tired — mentally, physically and emotionally.

And then I saw it.

"The days of walking on pins and needles are over. The days of worrying about feelings have ended," it said.

"It's time to step on some toes and take our country back! Share if you agree!"

This misguided Facebook post appeared in my newsfeed.

It was liked, shared and commented on by people I consider friends.

It upset me.

But what does it even mean?

What, exactly, is this a proclamation of? Whose "toes" are you planning on stepping on? Who are you planning on taking the country back from?

And who in the hell does this country supposedly belong to, anyway?

The wording is vague, but the meaning is not. It's a statement made from a place of fear and shrouded in a lack of worldly understanding.

In the days that followed I saw a lot of similar posts from similar-minded people, spreading absolute nonsense from far-right "news" sites, serving only to force this mass hysteria narrative further into the minds of people who can't bear to think for themselves.

Do they not understand that by using social media to spread fear and hate, to point fingers at their fellow Canadians, they're only making things worse?

How can they even believe some of the things they're saying?

But if you really want to take a peek into the deep, dark depravity of Canadian extremism, have a look at any comment section within clicking distance.

If you have something resembling a soul I don't recommend it — and I can't reprint a lot of what you'll find there — so here's the abridged version: Two generations of pampered, white, Christians make bold, racist statements full of spelling errors and hideous gaps in logic.

They demand blood and vengeance, and swear that if their master lets them off their leash, they'll take it themselves.

They're the type of people who watch Ezra Levant, fervently support Rob Ford and are practically begging for concealed carry laws, despite a mountain of dead innocents to the south.

But of course, "evidence" doesn't apply to this type. Evidence implies research and critical thinking, concepts you're clearly incapable of grasping when you've got one hand wrapped around a spray-paint can and the other is throwing a brick through the window of a mosque.

Coincidentally, you'll find a remarkably similar mindset if you find yourself on the official Conservative Party Facebook page, as I do from time to time.

It would be funny if it weren't so goddamned terrifying.

Thousands of certifiable nut jobs, bearing their racism, hatred and ignorance, openly and proudly on the ever-lasting Internet, banding together to demonize anything remotely "other."

Just like Harper's brand of politics, there is no cooperation, no compromise.

It's our way or the highway. Or, as so many of them so delicately put it, "fit in or f@#k off."

Yes, that is a thing that people say in Canada in 2014.

In reality, these people are not insane. They are perfectly healthy people with jobs and lives and families — loved ones that they fear for.

The man who stormed parliament last week with a gun was mentally unstable. Stories that have surfaced since reveal a picture of a desperate man who needed help — and tried in vain to get it — before resorting to the unthinkable.

He had no ties to ISIS, and a very thin connection to Islam itself.

In my mind, the conversation here should be around mental health, and how our system is so clearly lacking supports for the people who are most vulnerable.

Instead, the war drums pound, the paranoia intensifies and our real freedoms are stripped away under the pretense of protection.

There is no easy way to identify potential threats, no handy category of human being that we can just deport and be done with it.

But of course that's the solution some people are offering, because it's rigid, structured and simple.

Everything that the war we are about to enter is not.

So, under the vast banner of "it's just my opinion," the hate will continue to spew, the nonsense will continue to flow, a country that has been legally distinguished as multicultural for three decades will be further torn apart by people blinded by the white.

If you're one of these people, please — stay away from me.

Because for all your incessant fear mongering, it's you I fear the most.

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