Neighbours, sometimes we love them and sometimes we have those we wished never moved to the area in the first place. Yet, we appreciate them when push comes to shove. I have been fortunate since moving back to Unity to have good neighbours. We have helped each other out by watering each other’s gardens or getting a helping hand when the snowfall was too much for one person to handle. We co-existed side by side and if a situation arose, we discussed it peacefully.
Things changed though three years ago. The pandemic changed us all. We were not able to socialize in person anymore, so we turned to social media. At first, we shared funny memes of how we were killing time or realizing we were not cut out to teach our children. I was one of those who took part in the fun socially-distanced games and touched base with those I knew who were struggling. I even left my Christmas lights on way past December as my senior neighbour enjoyed looking at them late at night.
Then I got sick. I isolated to my room until the swab test came back, which was difficult already being a single parent of three pre-teen boys. With not much to do, I was on Facebook steadily. One post on a Unity group caught my eye. People in our community from all walks of life were attacking each other. People who attended Sunday services were spewing hatred and calling out others. There was an online war right in our small town. All because of a difference of opinion.
I had to stop. The words that I was reading made me so upset. I could not believe people I had been raised to respect were saying what they said. If I saw them in public, it was like what they wrote never even happened. They were one person online and another face-to-face.
Since then, we have still seen the wars online and it’s not just Unity either. One post, which can be merely a question from a newcomer in the area, can quickly become infected by a complaint, which festers to the point feelings become hurt. The most recent online war turned to complaints of food businesses not always being open for service.
Look around, people. Who runs the food industry in Unity? We only have two franchises; the rest are locally owned. Locally owned by people who live, shop, have families, attend our schools and pay their taxes. They are a part of our community, they donate gift certificates to all the various raffles or draws year-round, which we are so happy to accept and use. They are people who have lives and are entitled to have a break now and again. We should be thankful they haven’t packed up and jumped ship at this point.
I don’t know when everyone got so angry about every little thing. If you have a grievance about something with a business or want something changed, it won’t be because you are a keyboard warrior. Go to council meetings, attend a chamber of commerce meeting, speak to the business or inquire with them if something could be done. Do better, before it’s too late.