Tragic Van Attack in Toronto

Last week we witnessed a horrible event in Toronto. A young man, Alek Minassian rented a van and proceeded to hit pedestrians on Yonge Street between Sheppard and Finch with the explicit intent to cause fatal harm.

I learned of this news at the office and my initial thoughts were, “No it could not be. Not in Toronto. Not in Canada!” As we review the news briefings on Twitter, CBC, Global, CTV, and CNN, it is tragically clear that many innocent people enjoying a beautiful, sunny afternoon on Yonge met an unfortunate fate.

Of course this type of drive-by killing immediately reminds us of the numerous and similar incidents in Western Europe and in the US. I still cannot fathom why any individual would cause harm to strangers who have not displayed any threat or ill intent towards the perpetrator. These hateful behaviours are not compatible with any stable society.

People who wield, advocate and execute such abhorrent beliefs are effectively cancerous to others livelihood. We must combat such cancer with education, empathic communication, and not lash out with ignorant animosity. We need to show them that we can keep our wrath in check, and we can stay vigilant and strong, and move forward, and continue to live life the way we want and not in fear.

I was doubly surprised when Alek’s father turned out to be a former coworker of mine back at Ironside Technologies. I cannot imagine how he feels. The words, “extremely difficult”, is probably a drastic understatement. He is also a victim of the event. I reached out to him and offered whatever support should he requires it.

My condolences to all victims, survivors and others that are horribly touched by the event. Let us all work together and be transparent to our beliefs, and grievances. Let us leverage our empathies so that we can address our disagreements with civilities and compromises. In the end, we can and should ALL GET ALONG!

Facebook Trap

I deactivated my Facebook account on March 23. Here is my experience.

I continue to use messenger without any issues on my iPhone, but trying to use messenger on my computer via the browser eventually forces me to validate my identity with my Facebook account, which will implicitly reactivate my account. I had to consciously avoid doing this on many occasions. This means I can only use messenger on my mobile devices. This sucks.

During the deactivation period, I found using Instagram to be quite satisfying. I would say that a combination of Twitter and Instagram is a better fit for my social media needs than Facebook at the moment but it does have one severe drawback. When I find something of interest on the Internet, I cannot share links with Instagram at least not directly. I ended up sharing those thoughts with Twitter instead, but people on Twitter is not the same on Facebook. Also there are links within the Instagram App itself that will re-enable your Facebook account. I also had to consciously avoid those.

The other major difficulties is the use of my Facebook identity on other sites that I used, for example Strava and CBC, etc. disassociating these accounts from my Facebook account was annoying and most people will probably not tolerate it and simply reactivate their account. I did preserve through this process though and try to isolate my Facebook identity to just Facebook. However I have not found a way to separate Instagram entirely.

Facebook continues to send notifications via email even when you have your account deactivated. This includes messenger when you get a new message. Obviously clicking on these will eventually reactivate the account. Again I avoided doing this for about two weeks until this morning I inadvertently clicked on an email which brought me back to my Mobile Facebook Page. This automatically reactivated my account.

In summary, once you are a member of a social network, trying to leave the platform is extremely difficult. The combination of WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook is a perfect trap that is difficult to escape from. You have to sever yourself entirely as an interactive Internet user to really do it. You can still consume from the Internet, but as soon as you like to engage you’ll find yourself being lured into the Facebook trap.

So I am back. I guess I am admitting that currently the benefits out weigh the risk.