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RUSSELL WANGERSKY: Who do you believe?

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By the time you read this, I hope to have finished my second full day of mixing, pouring and smoothing concrete — long, even sweeps, first with a long piece of two by four to level it out, then with the mirror-finished cement trowel.

I’m not very good at it, but then again, I’m only fixing a decades-old concrete platform out by the front door, getting it repaired and ready for when I start a small, ground level deck over it. The slab of concrete I’m repairing is pitted and crumbling, showing — as if by concrete autopsy — how much more skilled its original fabricator was. In some places, holes show down through to the wire reinforcing mesh and beyond to dirt, in others, still remaining level-flat patches; both the mesh and the remaining flat surface demonstrate that skill.

I’ve built a small concrete form to hold in the broken-off front piece that I’m replacing — I was almost childishly delighted when, after four bags of premixed cement went in behind the form, it didn’t collapse from the 80-plus kilograms of laterally-pushing weight.

Mixing the concrete is heavy work. Even pouring the glutinous concrete out of the bucket isn’t easy, it clings, and you tire quickly shaking the bucket to make it let go.

But it’s satisfying, once the concrete is smooth and starting to harden, and I’d be lying if I said, as I write this, that I’m not looking forward to tomorrow’s work.

I think we all need more work like that, especially work that takes us away from computers, iPads and smart phones.

I say that with a little chagrin, because my job depends on those types of devices, and because I couldn’t do anywhere near the amount of work I get done in a week without the internet’s research possibilities.

But it also damages my ability to concentrate, because so much is available so quickly and constantly that I jar and judder from one thing to the next without ever completing the things I start. I can’t do without it, yet it’s making me a train wreck. If I made concrete the way I worked with the internet, nothing would every get built properly.

But that’s not the only reason I think we should spend more time with other things.

Watching the growing and truly bizarre cult of QAnon growing both below the border and, so some degree, in this country, too, I can’t help but believe it is a unique creation of the internet.

If someone came to your door to seriously argue that there was an international cabal of powerful child molesters draining blood from children to drink it and somehow extend their lives, you probably wouldn’t bring them into the house, sit them on the couch and get them some tea and say “tell me more.” You’d smile nervously, inch the door closed, and snick the deadbolt closed, hoping they wouldn’t be back.

But with the internet, there are scores of people following nebulous and fabricated “proofs” that build on themselves, and tie into an overarching narrative that actually does posit that blood-drinking molesters are a thing. People watch one set of video explanations, find more, watch more, share more, and gradually (or sometimes quickly) start to believe it. It absolutely could not happen without the internet, where people have often set aside any kind of qualitative analysis of the source of information.

People: make some concrete instead. It’s peaceful, and actually real.

Russell Wangersky’s column appears in SaltWire newspapers and websites across Atlantic Canada.

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