Trolls: Just can’t drop the Us vs. Them

Now that the caterwauling south of the border has quieted somewhat, let's turn our attention to home.

Carolyn Grant

Now that the caterwauling south of the border has quieted somewhat, let’s turn our attention to home.

Today, we will discuss the constant way people from both sides of the political spectrum can take a situation that has nothing to do with politics and try to make a point with it.

It’s been a horrific week and a half in Alberta but that hasn’t stopped the internet chatter — my goodness, no. This disaster, which has brought out the best in so many people, has brought out the worst from the chattering classes of the internet — the trolls.

Case in point, no sooner did Fort McMurray residents begin to evacuate than mutterings of ‘karma’ appeared on Twitter and Facebook. Yes, people fleeing a horrific fire deserved it because … oil sands. Nice.

But before those of you who didn’t yell karma get too self-satisfied, we will turn to those who began criticizing Alberta Premier Rachel Notley before she even had time for a second briefing on the situation. Yes, the trolls were convinced that this wouldn’t be happening — or would be handled better — if there were a different government because … NDP. Root of all evil, you know.

Prime Minister Trudeau, always a handy target, is taking a beating in internet memes for not visiting Fort McMurray. Firstly, these are the same trolls who would be screaming at him for an insincere photo op should he make the trip. Secondly, when Steven Harper visited Slave Lake in the midst of its crisis five years ago he was jumped on for interfering with the fire fighters just to get, you guessed it, an insincere photo op.

We are also seeing people online whining about how the oil sands businesses are being ignored in the media and the good work they are doing is not mentioned. Many are jumping on this bandwagon. Trouble is, it’s not true. I have been reading a fair bit of coverage on the situation and I have to say I have seen and heard numerous stories about the marvellous contributions being made by the companies which work  the oil sands. Even Premier Notley (the personification of evil, remember) has made it a point to mention their contributions at numerous press conferences.

But it’s so much more fun to just ignore that and keep pushing an untruth.

It is at times of hardship that we should be forgetting about us versus them and just thinking us. We can all help and we are all finding ways to do that, whether donating to the Canadian Red Cross or doing something more tangible like ferrying supplies up to northern Alberta. This is the kind of help our good neighbours need right now.

This fire, and the huge disaster that came after was not anyone’s fault. Unless it turns out to be human caused, then it was the fault of an idiot.

But this isn’t a political problem, though politicians present a tempting target most of the time. It’s not an oil sands problem. There are millions of hectares of forest in Canada and at times, they burn. It’s Mother Nature’s way of rejuvenating said forest. This fire could have burned anywhere. That it threatened a community like Fort McMurray is a tragedy, not karma.

So I say to you who seem to want to make a political statement about a natural disaster, or blame a political party for something completely beyond their control – shut up. Just shut up and keep on shutting up. When it’s time to stop shutting up I will let you know, but that time is not now, so shut up.

Carolyn Grant is Editor of the Kimberley Bulletin