THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - You likely had one or two of them among their Facebook friends — someone highly partisan, emotionally charged and willing to to go to the wall defending their particular political brand.
Taking on all commenters, some of these people have left scorched earth in their wakes, fighting out the election in the digital trenches, sometimes putting strains on long-term friendships.
Only now, in the wake of Monday’s federal election, are the mea culpas hitting the news feeds as people try to atone for their behaviour during the lengthy and often divisive campaign.
Typical of these digital warriors is Barry Milner, a local business man, who posted his apology for his online opinions on Tuesday.
"It is finally over and time to move forward. I would like to sincerely apologize to all my Facebook friends and those unfortunate ones that accepted my friend request for all of my rants, political propaganda and negativity,” Milner wrote on his timeline. "The last four years has been hell and I was consumed by my fear of losing everything I hold dear about Canada. Today is my first day free of my obsession with removing Harper from his destructive influence on this great country.... Please forgive me and I am sorry for anything I posted on Facebook that offended anyone (except Harper).”
In an interview, Milner said he was stunned by the misinformation that seemed to become fact just by being posted.
“And nothing happens, there is no consequences, which undermines the integrity of the whole system. It drove me crazy,” he says.
He admits now to being deliberately provocative but is now mortified at his behaviour.
“I know you’re not supposed to hit send when you’re mad but I would just spike when I saw some blatant lie,” he says.
Milner says he's not sure if he’s lost any Facebook friends although he’s sure he’s hurt a few feelings. Now he's trying to mend fences and hoping to move on.
“Social media gives you the opportunity to comment on everything. That doesn’t mean that you should.”
But when it comes to misinformation, holding the moral high ground was not the exclusive domain of any one side of the political spectrum.
Jan O’Brien is a statistician working in post-secondary education and she says it was lies — any lies, but mostly lies from the left — that drove her to jump into the online fray.
“I couldn’t stand the metrics. I had to challenge them,” she says, countering what she saw as straight-on lies but soon running into political trolls. “There’s these people, no matter what you say, if you disagree with them, you are evil or stupid."
O’Brien only hints at how she voted but even a week before the election felt compelled to post her repudiation of anything New Democrat and the hope to some of her Facebook friends that they remain so after Oct. 19.
“I have one friend who told me that unless I voted NDP, I could unfriend her until after the election. So I did. Now I’ll think about friending them again, or maybe not,” she laughs.
On Tuesday, O’Brien announced she was done with the debate, posting for all to see.
“Ah, now my Facebook page can go back to normal, filled with motorcyles, medieval history, and astronomy. Ahhhh… bliss out.”
How about you? Have your relationships suffered through this election and are you trying to repair them?
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