In Our Words: Don't worry, be chatty, help others out if you can

It’s very easy to feel depressed or upset with the way the world is right now. COVID-19 is scary and we don’t know what to expect tomorrow, next week, next month or next year.

I think there’s a positive that we can draw from this situation. COVID-19 is hammering home just how important community is and how important it is to support people in your community.

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Technology has been a key in all this. The internet has been crucial in doing almost everything for us and allowing us to continue living our lives as normally as possible.

Too many times in Flin Flon, I’ve seen people use social media sites (almost always Facebook) to threaten, harass, discriminate against and otherwise disrupt the lives and businesses of others. It’s drama. It’s destructive. It’s pointless. Flin Flon has always had a rumour mill and I hate it more than I can describe with words - at least, ones I wouldn’t get fined or fired for printing - and seeing that go online is something I wish never happened.

It’s an extremely vocal, misguided minority of people, reactionary in nature and willing to swallow just about any bull their friend of a friend Karen who sells that weird juice online thinks might have happened.

Whatever. I dislike Facebook. I deeply dislike certain Flin Flon Facebook pages and think they ought to be burned out of existence. I’ve written about this before. That statement can’t be all that surprising to regular readers.

That said, the technology itself is not the problem. The technology itself is a godsend. It’s been the dividing line between something to do and mind-numbing boredom.

Social media has one major underlying purpose - being social. It’s right in the damn name. At a time when you can’t visit friends, family, coworkers or loved ones face to face, technology is what’s going to provide things that would not otherwise be possible.

I’ve been looped into a ton of Facebook group chats and most of them are helping my state of mind significantly. It’s always nice to know that, while you may be isolated physically, that you haven’t been cut off from the world and there’s other people going through what you’re going through.

Information from across Canada and the world can be accessed quickly around the clock. Reliable news is hardly difficult to find. Sadly, unreliable news is too, but sticking to announcements from governments, health officials and known local, regional, national and international news outlets has proven to be a good bet. As one of those news professionals, I can tell you we’re working our butts off every day to make sure we get you all the information we can find and confirm. I haven’t had a day off in damn near a month. Sleep? What’s sleep? Is it something I can do when I’m dead?

That said, those news outlets and reliable sources are taking it on the chin during this outbreak, just like every local business. The things that pay our salaries here are newspaper sales and advertising. We’re still selling papers and online subscriptions and thankfully, some people and businesses are continuing to advertise during this. It’s helping keep the lights on and we’re mighty glad people are doing it.

Not every paper or news outlet is that lucky. There have been huge layoffs throughout the business. Newspaper chains have cut jobs out west and out east. Just last week, five newspapers that are part of the chain that owns The Reminder were suspended due to COVID-19.

This is a time when jobs in journalism are precarious at the best of times. We’ve been extremely lucky that we’ve never had to worry about shutting down our paper altogether and we’re going to keep going as long as we can. You can help us do our work by doing the little things, like turning off your adblocker when you go to our website. It keeps us going.

I don’t wish to sound selfish in just talking about newspapers and media. There’s all manner of local businesses who are doing little things to help out the community. There’s outside the box thinking. Restaurants are starting to do delivery. Stores are opening up early for the elderly and immunocompromised, then keeping people away from others, offering gloves and disinfectant, making sure only a small number of customers can go inside. Others are moving into online purchases and stores. 

Generally speaking, every local business and service I know of is doing something new to help people that they weren’t doing before. These businesses are going above and beyond, and even though I know times are tough for everyone and you might not want to spend any more money than you need to, I’d urge you to help people out if you can.

Small, community-based businesses thriving has a ripple effect - after all Amazon isn’t going to sponsor your kid’s soccer team.

It isn’t just businesses, either. Donate to the food bank. Ask your friends who have to stay home if you can do small things for them, like picking up food. Be thankful for essential workers who although they may not often be paid like it, have propped up our economy for weeks now.

Technology and community are going to be the things that get us out of this situation, whether it’s in medical advancements, research, treatment, spreading accurate information or in ways to keep ourselves sane while cooped up inside.

Support each other. Support local businesses. Support your local paper. Support yourself.

You can lean on us. We’ll be your friend, we’ll help you carry on, because we know it won’t be long ‘til we need somebody to lean on.

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